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NFL Draft, Day Two

The second and third rounds of the NFL draft have come and gone.

My guys made some promising picks today. The Giants picked up Sterling Shepard, a young wideout out of Oklahoma who is said to be quick and elusive, with the best hands in this draft class. If he is all they say he is, Eli will finally have someone else to throw to beside Odell, someone who will not (we can hope) drop the ball. And if Victor Cruz comes back as well, the G-Men should have a hell of a passing game. Shepard should also be a big help in the return game. Next round, Big Blue added Darian Thompson, a ball-hawking safety. That can't hurt either. Their defense needs all the players they can get.

The Jets did well in the third by picking a linebacker out of Georgia by the name of Jordan Jenkins. The talking heads on ESPN and the NFL Network all seem to like him a lot, and a couple said he is better than his more heralded teammate Leonard Floyd, who went early in round one. Looks like this guy will be a solid pass rusher, and the more big bodies we have to get after Tom Brady, the better off Gang Green will be.

All the talk is about the Jets' second round pick, however. They went for a quarterback, Penn State's Christian Hackenberg. A lot of controversy on that pick. "Hack" was a freshman sensation under Bill O'Brien who then wilted in his sophomore and junior years under lesser coaches. I saw him in person last year, when I attended Northwestern's home game against Penn State in Evanston. He lost that game. He's lost a lot of other games too. Will be thrive with the Jets? Maybe. He has gifts. One can hope. One can dream. But...

But he's sure not going to be ready to start this year. And Fitz is still not signed. So who will quarterback the Jets? And does this mean that Fitz will not be resigned? I sure hope not. If he does come back, who is the odd man out? The Jets can't carry four quarterbacks. Does this mean they have given up on Bryce Petty already? Or...

... maybe they can trade Geno Smith. For a sixth. Or a seventh. Or a player. Or...

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NFL Draft, Round One

So the first round in the NFL Draft was last night, and both of my teams went for players from Ohio State. Any Buckeyes here who can tell me more about them? Jetboygirl, where are you?

The Jets picked a linebacker, Darren Lee, at twenty. Supposed to be very fast. A sideline to sideline guy. Okay, sounds good. More speed on the defense never hurts. I am glad they did not draft the Memphis QB everyone wanted them to. He's a project, and we need a QB now. They need to sign Fitz.

The Giants, at ten, drafted a cornerback with the unlikely name of Eli Apple. Seven picks in, the G-Men were sitting pretty, with their two top choices still available. But the the Titans traded up to eight and drafted the offensive lineman the Giants wanted, and the Bear vaulted up from eleven to nine just to get grab the top linebacker, Floyd. In other words, the Giants got their lunch eaten. Leaving nothing but an apple. Of course, in this pass-happy league, everyone needs corners, and the Giants need them more than most, considering how many passing yards they gave up last year. Still and all... I would have been happier if they'd picked Shaq Lawson, the pass rusher.

The damned Cowboys got the guy I really wanted, running back Ezekiel Elliott. Curse them!

Today we get rounds two and three.

I am hoping the G-Men pick up 'Bama RB and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. Or else maybe took a chance and grabbed Myles Jack, the injured UCLA linebacker.

But who knows? Anything could happen. That's what makes these drafts so much fun.

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Dragons in the Railyard!

Hiya kids, hiya hiya.

Well, it took a little longer than expected (we had previously announced a September 29 unveiling, which we had to cancel), but work is finally complete on the trompe l'oeil mural I commissioned for the railyard, on the back wall of 418 Montezuma, the building that holds the Jean Cocteau Cinema.

We had a little celebratory party yesterday, along about sunset. Wine, cheese, and dragons. Here's the big picture:



The mural is the work of JOHN PUGH, one of the world's leading trompe l'oeil muralists, whose works adorn buildings public and private all over the United States, Canada, and the world. He's been working on it, off and on, for close on two years now.

I hope you guys all love it as much as I do. Another cool reason to visit Santa Fe, the City Different, where art is everywhere.



Come check out the beasties for yourself the next time you're in New Mexico... then head around front, see a movie, and have some of our famous buttered popcorn.

The Puppy Wars Resume

I've had most of the day to consider the new Hugo ballot and what it means, and to read some of the online commentary. The ballot, as I said in my first post, is very much a mixed bag. Some categories are much improved from what we were offered last year. Some are worse. Some much worse.

Those of us who hoped this year's massive turnout might give us something more palatable than last year were mistaken; the 2016 ballot and the 2015 ballot are pretty much a wash. The two editor's categories are much stronger than they were last year. Novel has some very fine and worthy choices (though my own favorite novels from last year are missing). Some talented young writers are up for the Campbell. On the other hand, Best Pro Artist is a joke, Short Story is if anything weaker than last year, and Best Related Work is a toxic swamp.

It's too late tonight to go through the list category by category, though. We have months to do that, so I will leave you all to do it for yourselves. We will have a Hugo packet eventually, which will make the process easier.

It is important, for those of you who may not have been following the awards controversey closely, to note that three important things happened since last year:

(1) MidAmericon II reported a record number of nominating ballots, more than 4000, almost double the previous record. In addition to MAC members, those who were members of Sasquan and the forthcoming Helsinki worldcon were also eligible to nominate,

(2) Sad Puppies 4, this year headed by Kate Paulk, changed its approach and produced a recommended reading list, with anywhere from one to ten suggestions in each category, rather than slating four or five. The process was open and democratic, which Sad Puppies 3 often claimed to be but never was. Paulk also avoided the ugly excesses of the previous campaign, and never stooped to the sort of invective that her predecessor, Brad Torgersen, had been so fond of, with all his talk of CHORFs and Puppy-kickers. For all this she should be commended,

(3) in contrast, the far right Rabid Puppies did a slate, as before. However, VD played it cute this year, peppering his lists with poison pills by including some major, popular works by well-known authors, works everyone knew to be contenders regardless of any Puppy support, along with the usual spate of mediocrity and a few choice picks that appear to be purely "fuck you" choices.

So how did all these factors intersect?

The record turnout seemed to have no impact. Fandom nominated in huge numbers, but it would appear that they did not nominate the same things. They scattered their nominations among dozens, perhaps hundreds, of possible choices. We won't know the full story till we see the complete list of nomination totals on Hugo night... but I suspect (unless MAC cuts the list short) that we'll see many more titles than we're used to.

The same thing happened to the Sad Puppies. By shifting from Torgersen's slate to Paulk's list of recommendations, they suffered the same fate as many other recommended reading lists, be it the LOCUS list or the Nebulas or my own recommendations. They had almost no impact on the ballot. The Sads did get works on the ballot when their choices overlapped with the Rabids, to be sure, but very few works that were "sad only" made the list. SP4 was a non-factor. (And before someone else points this out, let me be the first to admit that the Sads had more impact than I did. As near as I can tell, I batted .000 on my own recommendations, which just goes to show that all this talk of about my immense power is somewhat exaggerated. No wonder I never get invited to the meetings of the Secret Cabal).

The big winners were the Rabid Puppies, whose choices completely dominated the list. The Rabids had nominees in every category, I believe, and in a few categories they had ALL the nominees. Mike Glyer has a nice breakdown on FILE 770: http://file770.com/?p=28616 It seems obvious that while traditional fans and the Sad Puppies have minds of their own, the Rabids just vote the way they are told to vote.

We should remember that this was just the nominating round. The final vote is still ahead. How will that turn out? Well, that's up to you guys. Helinski pre-supporters and Sasquan members could nominate, but they cannot vote, so the ultimate winners will be decided by the members of MidAmericon II. So join. Read. Vote. You can sign up here: http://midamericon2.org/

One last point. The Rabids used a new tactic this year. They nominated legitimate, quality works in addition to the dross. Works by writers like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, Alastair Reynolds (Reynolds went public well before the nominations asking NOT to be slated, but they slated him anyway), Andy Weir, and several others. Some of these writers are apolitical (like Weir), while others are known to oppose everything that VD stands for (Gaiman, Stephenson, King). One has to think they were deliberately targeted.

In some of the online comments I've seen, these writers are being called "shields." I've even read some people calling for them to withdraw, simply because they were on VD's list.

Withdrawing is the LAST thing they should do.

I urge them all to stand their ground. They wrote good books, stories, graphic novels, they did NOT take part in any slate. In some cases they were largely unaware of all this. In other cases they explicitly denounced the slates ahead of time (Reynolds, again). Punishing them... demanding they turn down this honor... simply because VD listed them is insane.

Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet did the right thing by withdrawing last year. Their was an ethical and courageous act; I applauded them then and I applaud them now. But this is a different year and a different situation. Given the well-known political views of some of these writers, it seems plain to me that VD and the Rabids picked them deliberately, in hopes they would withdraw, or would be voted under No Award. They would probably have put Scalzi (VD's best bro) on the ballot too, but he outsmarted them and withdrew before they could.

I am rather hoping that several of them win. Based on quality alone, some deserve to. Sure, VD will claim that as a victory, but as last year proves, he claims everything as a victory. We'll know the truth. The only real victory for him would be having any of these fine writers pull out. Let's not play his game.

Anyway... I am sure we'll all have much more to say about this in the months to come. Fasten your seat belts, friends. It is going to be a bumpy ride.

(Oh... and yes, for those who were asking. This does mean we will need a second set of Alfies).

Coming Soon to the Jean Cocteau

The Jean Cocteau Cinema was Santa Fe's first "arthouse" theatre (it opened in 1977, as the Collective Fantasy), and one of the hallmarks of so-called arthouses is that they show foreign films that the big multiplexes don't touch.

And so it is with us. Today we like to say that we're the most eclectic movie theatre in The City Different, but foreign films remain an important part of our mix. Only the foreign films we show are a little different than the ones you might catch at other arthouses.

This week, for instance, we're showing MY BIG NIGHT, a hilarious romp by the Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia.



Coming up in the next few weeks we have two the biggest-grossing films in the entire world... but they're two films you may never have heard of, if you're in the US, since they have received almost no attention in America. I'm speaking of MERMAID and MONSTER HUNT, both out of China.

Have a taste:





Watch our website for showtimes.

See you at the movies.

Hugo Nominees Announced

MidAmericon II has announced the final ballot for the 2016 Hugo Awards. You can find the list here:

http://midamericon2.org/home/hugo-awards-and-wsfs/2016-hugo-finalists/

It is, to say the least, a mixed bag. A lot of good books and stories, writers and artists... cheek by jowl with some stuff that is considerably less worthy.

I will have more to say when I've had more time to review and digest the ballot.

HBO Premiere

Tonight's the night.

Season 6 is coming atcha.



'Nuff said.



((Some of you will want to discuss the episode. Please remember, this is not the place for that. Go to Westeros, to Tower of the Hand, to Watchers on the Wall, to Winter Is Coming, and to all the other fan sites. Thanks)).

Draft Week

Okay, this is amusing. What would it look like if NFL teams drafted characters from GAME OF THRONES?

http://www.nfl.com/photoessays/0ap3000000654646/season-6-game-of-thrones-mock-draft

Meanwhile, the real NFL is less than a week off, and as usual mock drafts are everywhere.

I don't do mocks, but I do have my wishlist. The Giants are drafting tenth, and boy, do they have a lot of needs. I am still reeling at how bad their defense was last year. Historically, in good years or bad years, the G-Men have always had a fearsome D, and they need to get back to that. They spent a fortune in free agency to bolster the defense, and with luck some of those players should have a difference... but given the way injuries always seem to decimate Big Blue, drafting for more D would make a lot of sense. The biggest need is for a top pass rusher. We still don't know if JPP will ever be the same player he was before he blew off half his hand, and even if he is, he needs help on the other side. Joey Bosa or Shaq Lawson would make me very happy in round one, if either one should last till number ten. That being said, there's also a chance Ezekial Elliott will be there as well, and if he is, I hope the Giants grab him. I love old smashmouth football, and the key to that is a bruising running game. Elliott looks as though he could be special.

As for the Jets, who knows? They draft considerably later. Some mocks have them taking a QB, but I don't know... the two top QB prospects will be coming off the board 1/2 this year, looks like, and I don't think anyone else is worth a first round pick. I am still hoping Gang Green can resign Fitz, to be sure, but if not, well, the Jets took Bryce Petty last year, I'd sooner they give him a chance rather than start over with someone new. Not that I have a vote. But if I did, I'd say the Jets should draft for defense as well. You can never have too many pass rushers, especially when you're in the same division as Tom Brady.

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Speaking of Signed Books...

... we had a terrific, sold-out evening with Ernie Cline last Sunday at the JCC. Ernie presented a slide show about his life in writing, answered questions, and signed copies of his latest, ARMADA, and we all swilled lots of Easter Eggs, the signature cocktail our mixologist Nik designed in his honor (complete with miniatures Rubik's Cubes).



Of course, we made him sign lots of stock before we let him go, so autographed copies of both ARMADA and READY PLAYER ONE are still available from the JCC bookshop... along with lots of other titles (including a good selection of Neil Gaiman titles, but those are going fast!).

Congrats...

... to Garth Nix, who took home an Aurealis Award for his story in OLD VENUS, "By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers." The Aurealis was established in 1995 to recognize the achievements of Australian writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

For a full list of all of thus year's award winners, go here: https://aurealisawards.org/



If you'd like to read Garth's award-winning story, copies of OLD VENUS and its companion volume OLD MARS are still available from the Jean Cocteau bookshop, signed by both authors. http://www.jeancocteaubooks.com/

Good work, Garth... Gardner and I are pleased and proud to have published your story.

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