I Used to Think My Life Was Strange

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1253)  I met Poldek Pfefferberg (1913-2001) as Thomas Keneally had.

In Polish “Poldek” is the familiar form — like our “Bob” for Robert — of Leopold, Pfefferberg’s given name.  In 1980 he had a leather-goods shop in Beverly Hills.  Keneally was looking for a briefcase.  Thus Keneally wrote Schindler’s List (1982), which won the Booker Prize, and Steven Spielberg directed the 1993 movie, which won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

Pfefferberg, born in Cracow, had a master’s degree in philosophy and physical education from Jagiellonian University (founded 1364; among its graduates, Copernicus and Pope John Paul II; motto Plus ratio quam vis [Latin] “Let reason prevail over force”), was a physical-education professor, joined the Polish Army in 1939, made lieutenant, fought against the Nazi invasion that set off World War II, survived, married in 1941 during the thick of this, and eventually came here.  Sometimes he used the surname “Page” given him at Ellis Island.

Oskar Schindler (1908-1974) saved him and 1,300 other Polish Jews by telling Nazi authority he needed them to work in his factories.  On Schindler’s list Pfefferberg was No. 173; his wife Misia (1920-2008) was No. 195.  Schindler was a hero.  He was also a black-marketeer, a carouser, a womanizer, and an Abwehr (“ahp-vare”, military intelligence) agent.  In 1947 Pfefferberg promised Schindler, over a game of cards at Munich, that Pfefferberg would make Schindler’s name a household word.  In 1980 Keneally was fascinated by how complicated Schindler was.  Keneally had written twenty books.  Pfefferberg had spent four decades telling the story.

In 1985 I was in Beverly Hills looking for a briefcase.  I soon learned who the shopowner was.  He had newspaper and magazine clippings about the book.  The movie took longer.  Pfefferberg never doubted a moment.  “An Oscar for Oskar.”

In 2007 Keneally wrote Searching for Schindler about Keneally’s part, meeting Pfefferberg, interviewing Schindler Jews and showing them drafts of Schindler’s List, visiting Schindler’s grave in Israel, working with Spielberg.  Photographs show historical people and places and their movie reënactment (dieresis mark for Phil Castora).  Nan Talese was the Simon & Schuster editor who commissioned Schindler’s List; she left while it was in progress; the U.S. edition of Searching — Keneally is Australian — appeared under her imprint at Doubleday.  Keneally ate at Spielberg’s mother’s kosher restaurant The Milky Way.  I did too.  She died (Leah Adler, 1920-2017) in February.

Alexander grieved he had no Homer to sing his deeds.  Schindler, who slew no thousands, nor ten thousands, but overcame some of the evil around him and, remarkably, in himself, had two.

Fans Demand Facebook Lift Its Ban on David Gerrold

Trolls abusing Facebook’s automated complaint system got David Gerrold banned for a post he made about Pride Month reports Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station. Here is an excerpt from Wright’s own comments about the situation, and the screencap is reproduced below.

The attached picture is a screencap, a short Facebook post written by an incredibly talented man. This man has quite literally written himself into the very fabric of history. You know him, even if you don’t know that you know him. Some of the ideas you have, some of the phrases you say, he wrote them and they became part of our culture. He is brilliant. He’s charming. He is fearless. He is kind and generous to a fault and far too tolerant of fools and the foibles of his fellow man.

He works every day to leave the world a better place for all Americans.

He also happens to be gay.

He also happens to be my friend, David Gerrold.

That post, the one attached below, was written by Gerrold in response to the hate LGBT people face every day. Every. Single. Day. Every. Day. Relentlessly. Hate he very much has personal experience with. Hate that I myself have witnessed firsthand.

Don’t believe me? About the hate?

That post, that innocuous post, got David banned from Facebook today.

No, it’s not the profanity. Profanity is not a violation of Facebook’s terms of use.

It’s the same thing that got me banned. A group of haters, small men, small in heart, small in vision, small in America, small in their small hate, abused Facebook’s automated complaint system to silence a man who spoke up for the rights of others.

To silence a man who spoke up for the rights of others.

And that is just about as unAmerican as it gets.

This must not stand. Not this month, not ever.

Wright calls on FB users to use its “Report a Problem” feature to call for the restoration of Gerrold’s FB access and his deleted post. At this time Wright’s message has received over 4,200 likes and been shared 1,684 times.

Here’s the text of Gerrold’s post, quoted with his permission.

ComicMix Gains Partial Victory in Dr. Seuss Lawsuit Over Literary Mash-Up

Last November, during a Kickstarter campaign to fund Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!, featuring the writing of David Gerrold, the art of Ty Templeton, and the editorial skills of ComicMix’s Glenn Hauman, Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) filed suit for damages claiming the project infringed their copyright and trademark on Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go!

ComicMix LLC moved to dismiss the lawsuit, and the motion was partially granted on June 9. U.S. District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino dismissed the trademark infringement claims, but allowed the copyright claim to proceed, awaiting proof of any harm to the Dr. Seuss estate’s licensing opportunities. The estate has been given two weeks to amend its copyright infringement claims.

As ComicMix reports:

Judge Sammartino found that the book is “a highly transformative work that takes no more than necessary [from Dr. Seuss’s books] to accomplish its transformative purpose and will not impinge on the original market for Plaintiff’s underlying work” She emphasized that the case has broader significance: “…This case presents an important question regarding the emerging ‘mash-up’ culture where artists combine two independent works in a new and unique way. … Applying the fair use factors in the manner Plaintiff outlines would almost always preclude a finding of fair use under these circumstances. However, if fair use was not viable in a case such as this, an entire body of highly creative work would be effectively foreclosed.”

The court decision also explained why it rejected the motion to dismiss the copyright infringement claim.

In codifying the fair use doctrine, Congress set forth four non-exclusive factors for courts to consider in evaluating whether a particular use of a copyrighted work is fair:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

…As it stands in this case, factors one and four — which “…have ‘dominated the case law’ and are generally viewed as the most important factors[,] …currently stand in equipoise. Factor two weighs slightly in favor of Plaintiff [DSE], and factor three is neutral. And although it would appear that the purposes of copyright favor Defendants [ComicMix, et al], that determination is also a close and unsettled call. Ultimately, given the procedural posture of this motion and near-perfect balancing of the factors, the Court DENIES Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Specifically, without relevant evidence regarding factor four the Court concludes that Defendants’ fair use defense currently fails as a matter of law.

Doctor Seuss Enterprises has until June 23 to present evidence about the effect on the market for the work whose copyright is allegedly infringed.

Young Steve Vertlieb’s TV Appearances — and Disappearances

By Steve Vertlieb : In the Summer of 1982, a young aspiring television film critic reviews a new film from director Steven Spielberg called E.T. I was being groomed at the time to be a weekly entertainment and film critic for WTAF TV29 (then an affiliate of Taft Broadcasting). The segments would have aired on Friday mornings, as part of the station’s daily, hour-long “Newsprobe” news and information series. The TV station was subsequently purchased by Fox Television, and changed its call letters to the current WTXF TV. While a noble “pilot” effort by everyone concerned, the idea was ultimately abandoned, and this fledgling television Roger Ebert found his on air career in shambles, except for some sporadic “guest” appearances in museums, universities, and on competing tv stations. Consequently, “A Star Was Shorn.”

  • STEVE VERTLIEB – “Review of E.T.” WTAF TV 29 clip (8/6/82)

Here’s a 1985 Halloween television appearance on NBC network affiliate, KYW TV, in Philadelphia during which host Dana Hilger and I discuss the often snobbish, yet universal popularity of horror films through the years. This is one of several television appearances that I made during the late Seventies, and early- to mid-Eighties. As you can readily tell from my youthful look on camera, this was taped, quite obviously, just a couple of weeks ago.

  • STEVE VERTLIEB – “People Are Talking” Halloween Special (circa early 1980s)

Pasadena Memorial Day Ceremony

By John King Tarpinian: Today was the dedication of the statue created by Christopher Slatoff, known by us as the man who created the Father Electrico bronze inspired by Ray Bradbury.

Here is a close-up of some details of the statute: Razor blade, bullet, matches, and Legos. Baseball not pictured.

This morning was also the annual fly-over of the San Gabriel Valley by WW2 aircraft. This photo was taken looking towards the Pasadena Elks Lodge, with the Rose Bowl being to the left.

Sir Peter Cushing Remembered

Steve Vertlieb, left, Peter Cushing, right, in 1975.

By Steven J. Vertlieb: We lovingly remember and celebrate the 104th Birthday (born May 26, 1913) of the magnificent Peter Cushing, the cultured gentleman of horror who, along with partner and friend Christopher Lee, led Hammer Film Productions in England to near mythical success and legend during the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies.

Peter became a friend through correspondence during the Sixties and Seventies. His letters were often searingly open, and heartbreakingly honest. We met finally at New York ‘s “Famous Monsters of Filmland” film convention during the torrid Summer of 1975.

Here I am with Peter upon our meeting at this memorable gathering. When I reminded him of our long correspondence, he said “Ah, Yes…You used to write me with your brother…just like Laurel and Hardy.” Just adorable.

With our beloved Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing was, perhaps, England’s most cherished export during his shared tenure as Hammer Films’ most prominent actor and star. Wishing Abraham Van Helsing and Baron Frankenstein a joyous, Gothic, Happy Birthday in horror Heaven.

Star Trek Trivia and Mysteries Revealed

By Carl Slaughter: (1) Things about Star Trek you probably missed. “11 nifty little visual details you never noticed in ‘Star Trek'” from MeTV.

Star Trek: The Original Series presented an entirely unique world to dazzled audiences in the 1960s. Each week, we discovered new aliens, distant green planets, future technology and the complex workings of the Federation.

Naturally, this meant a ton of props and sets had to be built, for not very much money. The production crew did a brilliant job, led by creative whizzes like set designer and art director Walter M. Jefferies. The production could turn garbage into gold — literally, they would sometimes dig through the trash at Desilu Studios for discarded materials to repurpose.

You can spot lots of clever little details if you know where to look. The crew even hid some little in-jokes to amuse themselves. Here are some of our favorites.

(2) Minor Star Trek set goofs. “10 minor goofs you never noticed in ‘Star Trek'”

Still, some errors inevitably made it onto the screen. There was no hiding the stunt doubles with computer technology, and the shadow of the boom microphone appears in too many shots to list here. Here are 10 of our favorite minor mistakes. In a way, they somehow make the entire series more impressive, once you realize the materials they were working with.

(3) Star Trek color quiz. “How well do you remember the colors of ‘Star Trek’?”

Let’s start off easy. What color is Spock’s uniform?

(4) Khan trivia. “11 things you never knew about Khan, the greatest ‘Star Trek’ villain”.

The character was originally meant for ‘Captain Video and His Video Rangers.’

“Space Seed” co-writer and story creator Carey Wilber dreamt up the plot years earlier for Captain Video, a pioneering, low-budget sci-fi show from the early 1950s. There were some major differences, however, as the original narrative involved Ancient Greeks with mythological powers awakening from cryogenic suspension in outer space.

(5) The Next Generation. ScreenRant is ready to reveal “15 Things You Never Knew About Data”.

  1. Data Has Beaten Wolverine In A Fight

There have been several comic books and novels released over the years that have crossed the X-Men over with the cast of Star Trek

In the comic series Second Contactthe crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation are sent back in time by Kang the Conqueror and arrive on Earth during the time when the X-Men are active. Data and Geordi are sent to infiltrate the X-Men’s mansion, where they run afoul of Wolverine. Data grabs Wolverine by the shoulder and throws him across the room like it’s no big thing. Colossus enters the room, only to have one of his punches stopped in its tracks by Data.

This wasn’t the first time that Wolverine jobbed out to a Starfleet officer. In Star Trek/X-Men, Mr. Spock would take out an angry Wolverine with the Vulcan nerve pinch. It seems that a healing factor and an adamantium-coated skeleton weren’t enough to stop Mr. Spock.

(6) When Sulu blew a gasket. “6 Times Sulu Lost It…Or Almost Did”.

While stoic in his own way, Sulu has his fair share of craziness in Star Trek: The Original Series. Traditionally, Hikaru Sulu is the unflappably cool guy with a good head on his shoulders, a close second to the logic-driven Spock. However, Sulu is human like all of us. And like all of us, he has his breakdowns, has strayed off the beaten path, and has gotten downright angry. These incidences are usually under the guise of alien mind control, but still.

Here are six moments where Sulu’s cool-guy veneer shattered.

(7) Kirk, the smooching starship captain. “Watch all of Captain Kirk’s captivating kisses on ‘Star Trek'”.

James T. Kirk certainly had more than a few romantic interests over the course of Star Treks three seasons. His title may be captain, but he was the Casanova aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. The captain kisses almost every woman he comes in contact with, regardless of whether they were from a different planet or even a fellow commander.

(8) Star Trek opinion survey. “How popular are your ‘Star Trek’ opinions?”

Star Trek, like all science fiction franchises with a rabid fan base, is the cause of many friendly debates. What is the greatest episode? Who the greatest captain? Klingons or Romulans?

Well, we’re here to tally your opinions on Star Trek: The Original Series. Answer these questions and see how your responses stack up against other Trekkies.

(9) Star Trek fan incomes. “More people prefer Star Wars, but Star Trek fans make more money”.

Last month, PayScale Human Capital polled 4,308 people. The survey asked a simple question: “Do you prefer Star Wars or Star Trek?” PayScale being a business concerned with income, it also gathered data on the salaries of those who participated. Tapping its database of more than 50 million individual salary profiles, PayScale released its findings on Star Wars Day yesterday, May the Fourth. The results are pretty fascinating.

46% of those surveyed prefered Star Wars.

14% percent prefered Star Trek.

Okay, Trekkies, you’re losing that battle like the Bajorans in the Kendra Valley Massacre. 14% also asked, “What’s the difference?” An equal percentage said, “I love them both,” while 12% declared, “I hate them both.” Well then.

However, Trek lovers do have one major bragging right — Trekkies make more money.

(10) Survey Says. “Star Wars Or Star Trek, The Fans Have Spoken [Infographic]”

Ray Harryhausen’s Praise for Film Composers

By Steven J. Vertlieb: Special effects and stop-motion animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen candidly discusses his affection, respect, admiration, and love for three-time Oscar-winning composer Miklos Rozsa in this deeply personal correspondence, commenting on their very special working relationship, and ever evolving mutual friendship.

A lovely note from Ray Harryhausen concerning Miklos Rozsa, Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, and the art of Music For The Movies:

SFWA VP M.C.A. Hogarth Steps Down; Hartshorn Fills In

After three years of service as Vice President, M.C.A. Hogarth has stepped down. Director at Large Erin Hartshorn has agreed to fill in as interim Vice President until a formal election in May of 2018.

SFWA President Cat Rambo says, “I’m sorry to see Maggie go; her efforts have been vital in moving SFWA along in recent years, and I will deeply miss her input on the weekly calls. One of my maxims will remain, ‘What would Maggie say?’”

Among the projects Hogarth worked on during the past three years are: the Partnerships Program, which builds relationship between SFWA and organizations like Amazon, Patreon, Kickstarter, and Audible; the SFWA Guidebook, a work-in-progress designed to acquaint members with the wealth of services SFWA offers; the Self-Publishing Committee; the SFWA Star Project Initiative; and SFWA Ed, an educational initiative which will eventually benefit writers both within and outside of SFWA.

Erin Hartshorn’s Director at Large position will be filled by an interim Director appointed by the President and approved by the board; an announcement will be forthcoming. Rambo adds, “It’s been heartening to find so many people willing to step up and run for SFWA office recently; I hope to see this trend continue in the next election cycle.”

Mohanraj Wins Seat As Library Trustee

Mary Anne Mohanraj has been elected a Library Trustee for The Village of Oak Park, IL. When voters went to the polls on April 4th four seats were open, and she received the second-highest number of votes out of the 10 candidates for the board.

Author, academic, journal editor, and founder and director of the Speculative Literature Foundation, Mohanraj responded to Trump’s election by becoming more active in local politics. She attended an Oak Park Progressive Women meeting and was approached about running for office, eventually deciding to enter the Library Trustee race.

Here is video of a candidates’ forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on March 14. Mohanraj first speaks at 6:15.