Passing the Bar in Birdman

St_James_Theatre_NYC_2007 COMPBy James H. Burns: There is no bar to the East of the St. James Theatre on Broadway.

At least, not the one in Birdman.

The bar is actually a few blocks away. Through the magic of filmmaking (that old canard), and the surrealism of this movie, many things are out of place —

Or in a new place, anyway, as the drums keep beating.

44th Street, where so much of Birdman takes place, is one of the New York boulevards I know best —

So the film held moments of a personal joy for me, that may not necessarily be there for others.

But there are certainly enough science fiction and fantasy tropes in the movie to make it a worthwhile viewing experiment for any genre enthusiast.

(And there’s at least one extraordinary sequence, towards the end, that I realized, may have always been one of my heart’s secret desires!)

There’s one more intriguing note, without giving away any spoilers to this Oscar-winning movie that seems to have infuriated so many.

At one point, we’re in front of the Holy Cross School–in real life, on 43rd just across 8th Avenue, towards 9th. For over a decade, beginning in the early 2000s, the Catholic school’s gymnasium was the scene of several collectables and nostalgia shows (featuring many pulps, comics and movie ephemera), run first by Gary Lyons, and the next series of shows, promoted by Brendan Faulkner and Frank Oviatt.

Both obviously, and covertly, Birdman abounds with such landmarks.

Those real, and of the neverwas.

Bergmann’s Rebuttal Now Online

F. J. Bergmann has posted the full text of her rebuttal to WisCon’s report about her alleged harassment of Rose Lemberg here.

Note: The WisCon report is not a published document (a copy was provided to Bergmann so that she could respond with any comments), however, the rebuttal was written for an audience that knew its contents. As a result Bergmann did not restate all the context for some arguments that an outside reader would find helpful.

Context 28 Is Cancelled

Predictions about the demise of Context, an Ohio science fiction convention, may yet prove true. Committee member Sharon Palmer issued a statement today that the 2015 event will not take place:

The Fanaco Board regrets to announce that Context 28 has been canceled. Refund checks to anyone who preregistered were mailed on March 29. Thank you for your support.

If you have any questions, please contact: Context PO Box 163391 Columbus OH 43216

This confirms what author Ferrett Steinmetz tweeted in February:

Harassment complaints made by several attendees at Context 27 in September resulted in a publicly-announced 5-year ban of the accused staffer, however, the committee was torn apart by dissension over the way the process played out. Efforts to reorganize the leadership were reportedly unsuccessful.

Lomberg’s Cosmos Archive To Auction

Art for Cosmos by Jon Lomberg.

Art for Cosmos by Jon Lomberg.

Artist Jon Lomberg enjoyed a 25-year collaboration with the late Carl Sagan, illustrating The Cosmic Connection (1973) and providing work for Cosmos, Broca’s Brain (1979), and the cover for Sagan’s novel, Contact (1985). And Lomberg’s Cosmos Archive will go under the hammer at Heritage Auction’s Rare Books Signature Auction on April 8-9 in New York.

A long descriptive article about the art can be read at the link.

This incredible archive includes sixty-two original signed paintings, drawings, and sketches; forty-seven signed one-of-a-kind prints of special effect paintings used in the series, four signed retouched photos from the series, thirteen sheets of signed storyboards (including dozens of drawings), approximately twenty documents and notes related to the series, production photos, and one stereoscopic viewer with slides testing dimensionality of the “Milky Way Approach” sequence from the series.

On the other hand, some of Lomberg’s best-known work can never go to auction because it’s already left the solar system.

His work also includes designing artwork and material for various NASA interstellar exploratory missions, including artwork for the famous “Voyager Golden Records,” the gold-plated copper record albums that were mounted in both Voyager spacecraft, each launched by NASA in 1977. It is just possible (though, admittedly, not very likely) that the first images of Earth and Mankind seen by an extraterrestrial civilization will be those done by Lomberg.

Fortunately, his incredible Galaxy Garden is no farther away than Hawaii. It models the Milky Way to scale with a garden of living things:

A fountain in the middle of the garden marks the “gravity well” with a bimodal jet so water is going both directions. Out on the galactic arm corresponding to the position of our solar system, the place where the Sun would be is marked by a tiny jewel on a leaf. Driving home the scale involved, Lomberg says all the stars we can see with the naked eye are either on that same leaf or an adjoining leaf!


Richard Clear (1943-2015)

Richard Clear shows off an original Brundage Weird Tales cover painting at PULPcon (year unknown). Photo by Robert Weinberg.

Richard Clear shows off an original Brundage Weird Tales cover painting at PULPcon (year unknown). Photo by Robert Weinberg.

Book dealer and former Pulpcon committee member Richard Clear passed away March 21. He was 71 and had been ill for a number of years.

He began collecting magazines and in 1973 opened the Dragon’s Lair comic book store in Dayton, Ohio.

He became a valuation expert, compiling the Old Magazines Collector’s Price Guide (1974) and serving as an advisor to the magazine portion of Time-Life Encyclopedia of Collectibles (1979).

In 1983 he moved to Tampa and opened Merlin’s Books.

The 1988 Pulpcon gave him the Lamont Award, for outstanding effort in keeping alive the memory and spirit of the pulp magazine era.

He later moved back to Ohio and continued his book business online. Having been involved with Pulpcon in its early years, around 2008 he resumed participating on the con committee, however, the event soon became moribund. His historic role was acknowledged in a death notice posted by Pulpfest.

The family’s memorial is here. Clear is survived by his longtime companion Nancy McAnespie, grown children Richard Clear, Barbara Curry, Lisa Lawson, and Michael Clear, and many grandchildren.

2001 Shuttle Model Fetches Six-Figure Bid

21553709_1m BIGA screen-used model Aries 1B Trans-Lunar Space Shuttle from 2001: A Space Odyssey auctioned for $344,000 on March 28.

In the movie, Dr. Heywood R. Floyd rides the shuttle from the space station to the Moon to investigate a monolith buried in the crater Clavius.

The model measures 32″ high, 27″ wide, 28″ deep and has a diameter of 94″.

It was purchased by AMPAS for probable display in the Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures which is expected to open in 2017.

The model is one of the rare surviving items made for Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film. He ordered most of the things destroyed to prevent them being reused in other movies. This particular model was given in the 1970s to an art teacher for use in classroom instruction.

Wilson To Get LFS Lifetime Achievement Award

The Libertarian Futurist Society will honor F. Paul Wilson with a Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement on May 9 at Marcon.

Wilson has won four other Prometheus Awards during his career, including the first ever presented, in 1979, for Wheels Within Wheels.

He has been recognized often by the LFS over the decades. The other two novels in addition to Wheels that make up Wilson’s science fiction trilogy have been inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, Healer in 1990 and An Enemy of the State in 1991.

Wilson also won a Prometheus Award for Best Novel in 2004 for Sims, which explores foundational issues of individual rights.

Wilson will be the third recipient of an LFS Lifetime Achievement Award. Poul Anderson received the first in 2001 and Vernor Vinge received the second in 2014.

The full press release follows the jump.
Continue reading

2015 FAAn Awards

The winners of the 2015 FAAn Awards were announced March 29 at Corflu in the UK.

  • Best Genzine: Banana Wings ed. by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
  • Best Personal Fanzine: Vibrator ed. by Graham Charnock
  • Best Single Issue: Trap Door #31
  • Best Fan Writer: Mark Plummer
  • Best Fan Artist: Steve Stiles
  • Best Letterhack: Paul Skelton
  • Best Fanzine Cover: Banana Wings #56 by D West
  • Best Fan Website: eFanzines

Also announced during the ceremonies:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Weston
  • Graham Charnock elected as past President of Fanzine Writers of America.

Next year’s Corflu will be in Chicago.

[Via Robot Archie.]

Paulk Proclaims Puppy Party 4

They can’t be that sad.

Writers on the Sad Puppies 3 slate have been demurely preparing to take a victory lap when the Hugo nominations are announced on April 4. They’ve been marking their territory on Facebook. Significantly quoting Jabberwocky. Effusively giving thanks for nothing in particular with promises to “say more when I can.” Or just blurting it right out like Michael Z. Williamson.

And Lou Antonelli, who appears twice on the Sad Puppies slate, may not have needed a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows in this forecast:

My prediction is that Sad Puppies will take 30 percent of the nominees in the writing categories, while the more hardcore Rabid Puppies slate will take half as many, 15 percent. That will give Puppies of either stripe 45 percent of the total noms.

So what comes next? More of the same!

Kate Paulk of the Mad Genius Club just announced Sad Puppies 4.

…in a fit of even greater insanity than usual, yours truly, Kate the Impaler of the Evil Legion of Evil, will be picking up the banner for Sad Puppies 4 and running with it. I even promised not to impale anyone with it (it’s such a pretty flag, and getting blood and… stuff… all over it would make those poor sad puppies even more sad. Even the Evil Legion of Evil has standards, you know. We’re completely against letting Sad Puppies stay sad. We want them to be happy).

There won’t be much action from Sad Puppies 4 for quite some time, but rest assured I will be lurking in the shadows looking for worthy candidates for the campaign to End Puppy-Related Sadness. When the time is right, announcements will be made and campaigning will begin in earnest. In the meantime, I shall rub my hands together and practice my evil cackle.

Today In History 3/28

Tippi Hedren's pale green dress from “The Birds," recently part of the Hollywood Cosume exhibit. Photo by Richard Harbaugh.

Tippi Hedren’s pale green dress from “The Birds,” recently part of the Hollywood Cosume exhibit. Photo by Richard Harbaugh.

March 28, 1963:  Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds opened in theaters.

Hitchcock and Bradbury Fistfight in HeavenAs an aside, Ray Bradbury was asked to write the script by Hitch but turned it down because he was still “recovering” from having written the Moby Dick script for John Huston. Whenever Ray would watch the movie he’d yell at the TV, “You should have used the ending from the book!”