Mini Trailer Park

Three new trailers on YouTube that caught my eye.

Ant-Man Official Japanese Trailer #1

The final trailer for Dai Gyakuten Saiban, a game in the Ace Attorney series, before its release on July 9th, 2015.

The Pixels character trailer for Lady Lisa.

Morris Everett Auction Features Genre Lobby Cards

A variety of highly interesting sf/fantasy memorabilia pieces from the collection of Morris Everett will be auctioned by and Profiles in History on June 29 and 30.

Over 1,400 lots will go under the hammer on Day 1 and Day 2. These can be viewed online, or in the downloadable catalog. Here are four examples:

Lot 24 Metropolis

Lot 24: Metropolis lobby card, Estimated Price: $20,000 – $30,000

Metropolis lobby card. (UFA, 1927) Color lobby card for Metropolis. Thematically one of the best cards in the set, featuring fantastic Paramount color and design. To the best of our knowledge, this is believed to be the only existing example of this card. Virtually unhandled. The original German poster for this film has twice sold privately, for well in excess of 1 million dollars. In very fine condition.

Lot 416 Frankenstein

Lot 416: Frankenstein lobby card, Estimated Price: $10,000 – $15,000

Boris Karloff lobby card for Frankenstein. (Universal, 1931) Color lobby card for Boris Karloff in Frankenstein. One of the best cards in the set. Professionally cleaned with marginal repairs. Now presents as fine condition.

Lot464 King Kong

Lot 464: A rare color lobby card for King Kong, Estimated Price: $6,000 – $8,000

King Kong Empire State Building lobby card. (RKO, 1933) Color lobby card for King Kong. Widely considered the best in the set and one of the most highly desired horror lobby cards in existence. In very fine unrestored condition.

Lot491 Wizard of Oz

Lot 491: The Wizard of Oz lobby card Estimated Price: $6,000 – $8,000

The Wizard of Oz title-lobby card. (MGM, 1939) Color title-lobby card for The Wizard of Oz. Moderate retouching to correct corner pinholes and other minor handling. Now presents as very fine.

Stephen Hawking Here and There

Update your file about Stephen Hawking with these clips:

(1) Hawking’s list of three things that could destroy human civilization surprisingly does not include Sad Puppies…

Firstly, Hawking is fiercely wary of strong artificial intelligence (AI); ….

Hawking has also issued a stark warning about the potential cataclysmic effects of human aggression. Hawking believes our aggressive nature could result in catastrophic events that could end human civilization, such as a major nuclear war that could end all civilization and extinct the human race. With increasingly violent movies, video games and, in general, more violent behaviors within our current human civilization, sadly backed up by increasingly violent crime statistics, we would have to agree that human aggression is a major cause for concern. Could it only be a matter of time before the horrific trend of bullied teenagers opening fire on their schools escalates when these psychopathic adults decide to go one step further and bomb the whole world?

Last but not least, Hawking has expressed concerns about alien life….

(2) Hawking made a holographic appearance at the Sydney Opera House in April.

Hawking spoke of his life and his work, and he touched on how technology is currently influencing daily life. “In a way the internet connects us all together like neurons in the giant brain,” he said. “With such an IQ, what won’t we be capable of?”

Hawking also received questions from the audience, including a question about how young girls can deal with Zayn Malik leaving the band One Direction.

“Finally, a question about something important,” he joked. “My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay close attention to the study of theoretical physics. Because one day there may well be proof of multiple universes.” He said it’s possible there’s another universe where Malik is still in the band.



(3) Should we blame Stephen Hawking for telling BBC One’s Dara O Briain that “All science fiction is dead”?  He probably heard that fans once voted the Hugo to Who Killed Science Fiction?

Dara talks to Stephen about time travel, reaching the stars and God in bonus material not featured in the programme.

Here is the program website.

Online exclusive: “If you jump in a black hole you will meet an unpleasant fate”


Sons, of a Mesozoic Age


By James H. Burns: I saw Jurassic World late this afternoon.  (It had nothing to do with the article, “My Father, and the Brontosaurus”, which was written weeks ago,)

By coincidence, I saw it in the same theatre my Dad had seen the first movie in, in 1993.

(It was fun to realize that the teenagers sitting next to me hadn’t been born yet, then; and that they grew up with the dinosaur series almost as home movies.)

Forty-three years ago, I saw Conquest of the Planet of the Apes in that movie house, and the next summer, the very last of the original Apes movies, with my Dad.

The theatre is just a four block walk from where I now live.

Sometimes, maybe we need a little more fantasy in our lives than otherwise.

As our boss here knows, my life has not exactly been a bed of roses lately. (Including, just recently, the neighbor who has taken to, very strangely, staring at me, when I’m actually working on a new rose plant…)

And, truth be told, I’m not overly fond of watching dinosaurs fight each other. (I wasn’t even too happy when King Kong beat up that Tyrannosaurus Rex.)

I guess I rather just see peaceful scenes with these magnificent creatures. (Although, I have to say, the segment in Jurassic World with the flying dinosaurs, is terrific.)

Almost no one here know that for a while there, I was involved, well, not really with animal rescue, but…

Every evening, around 10 P.M., I would put small circles of dry cat food around my old home’s side yard. It would be magical to look out on a bright, moonlit night, and see raccoons side by side with possums, and feral cats. (With enough food for everyone, there were no signs of territoriality.)

It was even more enchanting to have a couple of generations of raccoons apparently regard me as a friend. And beyond astonishing the night a raccoon appeared from behind the car in the driveway — a raccoon I had not seen in quite a while, only to be followed by her family of FIVE BABIES.  To this day, I cannot adequately express my amazement when, moments later, she left, trusting this human she had known for months (or years?), with her little ones.

I’d put bird seed out every afternoon at one, and watch hundreds of sparrows, and starlings, and pigeons, and mourning doves, and a family of cardinals and one or two bluejays — along with several squirrels — happily frolic, and feed.

Go figure, the creatures of the air during the day, and those of land, toward midnight.

But my “yard,” with all this, must have given off some kind of good vibe, because on a few occasions, sickly ferals — cats I had never seen before, showed up, sensing,I suppose, a kind place, where they could be tended, til the end.

(In all cases, hours before I was going to take these stricken to the vet, to be put to sleep, they passed, on their own — their last two days filled with food, water and affection.)

Perhaps one of the best tableaus I ever saw was when a feral who would hang around my house intermittently, decided to watch over an ailing cat, one that, presumably, he also had not previously known.

The look of joy, and much more rarely, thankfully, sadness in a creature’s eyes, is something I have known, most of my life.

Which is why, I suppose, CGI can be too effective, at times, nowadays.

I had no desire to see the new Planet of the Apes movies in the theatre. The trailers, to me, had a troubling aspect.  When CGI becomes this realistic, ultimately, you’re watching a monkey suffer.

I suppose, to some degree, I’ve become a moviegoing coward.  If one watches a film at home, and you get to a disturbing sequence, you can always pause the movie, and come back to it, perhaps better braced…

e9866c7d2fec6495534e6ab76e4eeeb6In Jurassic World, this modern artistry and skill is also put to LOVELY effect. I am giving nothing away to say that by the film’s final action, I was moved to a few tears–

And not because of something sad!

It was not the only time the movie touched my heart.

There are also remarkable depictions of a myriad of primevals in peaceful repose, enjoying their lives.

To be sure, the film is far from perfect. There seem to be some major script flaws, particularly in the second half. But there was also much pleasure, and legitimate excitement.

I’m writing these words, on my stoop, at twilight, with a whole number of saurian descendants singing happily in the trees above, perhaps saying so long to the day, and embracing the fall of night, maybe also recognizing that we’ve finally begun another summer.

Like my father, almost twenty-two years ago, I got to see some scenes in a dinosaur move, that I’m guessing that I may have always wished to.

Saint Arbor Crafts Bradbury House Bookends

gI_90215_Saint%20Arbor%20Ray%20Bradbury%20451%20BookendsSalvaged wood from Ray Bradbury’s home, demolished in January, will find new life as 451 sets of bookends. Information on how to order them will be posted later today.

The bookends were manufactured by Saint Arbor, a Los Angeles, California based custom furniture company that creates handcrafted pieces from repurposed wood. The company works closely with non-profit organizations to preserve materials from demolished homes in and around Los Angeles — in this case, The ReUse People, who handled the salvaging work on the house.

The Bradbury 451 bookends began production with full support of the Bradbury family in early June. Each set will be branded with a series number from 1/451 to 451/451 as well as the icon “451 F” to commemorate the best-selling book. Also included will be a certificate of authenticity and thank you letter from The ReUse People.

Jon-Ryan Riggins, the owner of Saint Arbor said of the restoration project, “As of now, the public believes that the house went to a landfill. We want people to know that the material was salvaged and we’re taking great care to preserve it. It’s an honor for Saint Arbor. Mr. Bradbury lived in this home for 50 years and wrote some of his greatest works there. We think it should be remembered well.”

With a minimalist philosophy Saint Arbor creates handcrafted reclaimed wood furniture for both home and commercial use. Adept in the creation and design of custom furniture from salvaged materials, the company has created bespoke repurposed furniture in downtown Los Angeles for two years. In addition to giving new life to salvaged American lumber, the company plants ten trees for every piece of custom furniture they make. To date the young company has planted 7,000 trees.

My Father, And The Brontosaurus

1190429869_1By James H. Burns:  “I couldn’t believe I found myself talking to a dinosaur, Jim,” my father told me, some years ago. “I should have felt silly, but there I was, with this happy Tyrannosaur, saying, ‘Good afternoon, my friend.’ ”

Some people, of course, would have seen the T-Rex as glowering, rather than  with a smile.

My parents had gone to what must have been one of the very first editions of “Dinosaurs Alive,” in 1989, a neat attraction featuring “life-sized” primevals in a natural setting,” moving and roaring in animatronic splendor.

One could actually walk around the dinosaurs.

(My folks saw this “prehistoric park,” at Sand Points, along the  Long Island Sound, in New York — also the site of the magnificent 1923 medieval-styled castle, Falaise.)

My Dad, Hugh — known to almost all by the nickname “Hy” (derived from his original birth-name,  Hyman Birnbaum) — was a retired mechanical engineering professor (at NYU, Polytechnic, and the City College of New York), and a decorated World War II veteran. In other words, he wasn’t necessarily one to be overwhelmed by whimsy, although he certainly embraced that part of his personality.  (If you were there, with the dinosaurs by the woods, you might have seen a rather dignified looking gentleman, about six feet tall — imagine, if you will, Telly Savalas with a grey crewcut, and beard; or, from certain angles, Dean Martin, under similar accoutrements…)

113bHe was also a science fiction guy going back to the golden age of Flash Gordon in the newspapers, and Stanley G. Weinbaum and Jack Williamson (and Astounding and Planet Stories magazines) on the newsstands,  in the 1930s.

He first must have seen dinosaurs come to life in the halcyon era of 1933’s King Kong, probably later in its run, when a movie really could only cost a nickel…

(One of the few easily accessible miracles of the Depression (still the greatest economic calamity to ever face our nation), was that ANY American for the equivalent today of about a buck, could see a cinematic miracle; or for a bit more purchase over one hundred pages of pulp parables; and, for absolutely free, tune into wonder on the radio, with a myriad of adventure serials, comedies, and other entertainment.)

As others have pointed out, has there been a child of the century who wasn’t fascinated by dinosaurs?

dinoland-1964-5-world-s-fair_imagelargeThe first dinosaurs we would have shared must have been at the New York World’s Fair in 1965, in Flushing Meadows, Queens (where the baseball Mets still play).  In the second, and final year of that unparalleled spectacular’s existence, we saw Dinoland,  Sinclair Oil’s famous “dinosaur garden.” (A small plastic stegosaurus soon became one of my prized possessions).

But the most stunning experience at the Fair — and a highlight not only of childhood, but of many attendees’ lifetimes — was “The Magic Skyway.”  The Ford Motor Company in collaboration with Walt Disney and associates, fashioned a “ride” where you actually sat in a real car.  The brand new automobile first took you through the distant past — dinosaurs and early man — and then as you went through what felt like a tunnel in time, you were suddenly surrounded by dioramas of the worlds of tomorrow, including a happy future in space.

(For decades before the internet’s inception — and the ability to prove  a veracity of memory — people would doubt my toddler’s reminiscence  that the Ford vehicles first went through a window, and journeyed on a track outside the building, several stories high, in what resembled a glass corridor, before reentering, and commencing this voyage through the eons!

tumblr_n4gn3hwA9X1s6mfc6o1_500(Memory, of course, can be tricky. My father, beginning in the 1980s, swore that as a three-year old, I insisted that the family wait for a Ford convertible.  But when fact-checking this small memoir, I discovered that every one of the cars used for the exhibition was a convertible.  Perhaps, in 1965, I urged that we should wait for a Mustang, which was debuted at the Fair, a year earlier!)

(The other featured automobiles included Galaxie 500s,  Lincoln Continentals, Mercury Montereys, Ford Falcons, Thunderbirds, and Mercury Comets.)

Sadly, Disney felt that “The Magic Skyway” was too expensive to remount at Disneyland, but some of the dinosaurs were transferred to the park, as well as a reconfigured cave man.  (Certainly, much of the spirit of the Flushing Meadows EXPOSITION  lives on in certain venues at Disney’s EPCOT, in Orlando, Florida.)

Pasta-Brontosaurus COMPThere was also, of course, the Hall of Dinosaurs at New York’s Museum of Natural History, a chamber of awe that my Dad first saw in his own youth.  (There are few places I have been in my life, that seem permeated with such reverence.) And in 1968, on one of my first trips to a movie theatre to see an adult motion picture (as opposed to a “kiddie matinee”), we saw a Saturday afternoon double-bill of One Million Years B.C. featuring the incredible stop-motion animation dinosaurs of Ray Harryhausen (Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Jason And The Argonauts), and the particularly resplendent Raquel Welch, paired, remarkably, with Planet of the Apes!

how_and_why_dinosaursVirtually forgotten today, though, is what must have been one of the most widely viewed of “filmed” dinosaur depictions, or at least the one in the most American homes…

In 1956, Irwin Allen (Lost In Space, The Poseidon Adventure) put together a theatrical documentary, The Animal World, which included a lengthy sequence on dinosaurs, created by stop-motion animation filmmakers Willis O’Brien (King Kong, Mighty Joe Young) and the aforementioned Harryhausen.

Viewmaster — the amazing company that innovated three-dimensional images released on circular reels that could be seen through a special hand-held, dual lens device — licensed the movie, using its Mesozoic sequences for a packet entitled, Battle of the Monsters.

Unexpectedly (and rather incredibly), the reels make a cameo in Jurassic World.

Before home video, Viewmasters offered the most readily affordable chance to “own” a TV show or movie that one liked, or at least a reproduction of such.  It can still be a thrill to see 3-D shots from other genre fare as Zorro, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea, The Addams Family, Batman, Star Trek, The Green Hornet…. There were also excellent sets devoted to NASA and our early manned space missions.

The most fantastic Viewmaster reels may have been their fairytale and mythology editions, for which they devised their own models and dioramas.  The inherent enchantment of these hand-crafted vistas seemed to touch a special place in the imagination, and have remained timeless.

(These miniatures, and their photography, were largely the work of Florence Thomas, and later, her assistant, Joe Liptak, in Portland, Oregon..  Thanks to their artistry, and ingenuity, it was also marvelous to see many of the most famous cartoon characters (including Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker) be brought to “realistic” stereoscopic life. I can still remember my shock, as a boy, in seeing The Animal World’s ceratosaurus, through the viewer, drawing bloood from its prey.  (Although I can guarantee you that, at the time, I had no idea of the first dinosaur’s name!)

Battle of the Monsters was released under different titles, over the decades:  its model work easily holding its own against more contemporary effects outings. (And coincidental to this article, it’s intriguing to note that Viewmaster was introduced at the very first World’s Fair, in 1939!)

LR-22422_TP_00042RI felt bad, when my father lay dying in the summer of 1993, that he may have missed Jurassic Park, a movie that could have fulfilled what might have been some of his early dreams.

(It was, of course, the least of my family’s sorrows.)

But my mother told me that he had gone out one July afternoon, to catch it locally.

I knew that he had already been impressed by a sequence he saw on TV, which he recounted as the heroes being afraid that they’re about to be trampled by a herd of dinosaurs, only to be ultimately IGNORED by the charging horde–action which reminded him of a jungle stampede he thought he once saw in King Solomon’s Mines, or one of the other “Africa” movies of the past.

Somehow, my Dad wound up conveying to me that he did indeed love the movie. I wasn’t as crazy about Jurassic Park, apparently, but especially enjoyed, and admired — and was struck by, really — its last moments, when the paleontologist gazes through the window of a soaring helicopter, watching a flock of pelicans flying over the sea: The film’s subtle reflection on the long held theory that birds may be the modern descendants of dinosaurs.

I’m not sure when I first encountered that premise, but it has resonated with me as a lovely possibility, for what now seems ages.

My parents always had a deep affinity for all creatures. I grew up watching my mom — with my dad’s encouragement! — put food out daily for the birds and squirrels—

A habit I continue to this day.

Often now, for years, as I watch the sparrows and mourning doves and starlings a dancing, I think how lucky I’ve been, to know all these primordial, and blissful kingdoms.


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The Terminator’s Tour of Hollywood

Terminator Genisys is coming to theaters July 1 and fans have one more day to enter and win the right to ride with Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Terminator Genisys Premiere and drink Schnapps with him at the after party.

This is part of a charity fundraiser — see details here.

Arnold has been out pranking fans as the Terminator to publicize the movie and the fundraiser, as witnessed by this very funny video.

Orchestra Performs “The Hunt” from Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes poster

Planet of the Apes poster

Jerry Goldsmith’s music for The Planet of the Apes received an Academy Award nomination and now ranks No. 18 on the American Film Institute’s Top 25 American film scores. Here is a split-screen video of the orchestra accompanying “The Hunt” scene from the movie.

The music was performed at a Jerry Goldsmith tribute by the Tenerife Film Orchestra and Choir in 2009 at Fimucite, the Tenerife International Film Music Festival, in the Canary Islands.

[Thanks to James H. Burns for the story.]

Discworld Series Will End

No one will continue the Discworld series with new novels, whether based on notes Sir Terry might have left behind or not, Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna has decided.

Pratchett finished writing the 41st book in the series last summer: The Shepherd’s Crown will be released in the UK in August by Doubleday Children’s.

[Thanks to David Klaus and Andrew Porter for the story.]

Today In History

A&cfrankJune 15, 1948:Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein released.

My favorite quote:

Chick Young: You’re making enough noise to wake up the dead!

Wilbur Grey: I don’t have to wake him up. He’s up.

The two best mistakes:

  • Dracula’s reflection can be seen in the mirror when he makes Dr. Mornay his next victim. In previous Universal horror films, (notably Lugosi’s Dracula and House of Dracula with John Carradine), the undead could be recognized because they cast no reflection. However, this bit of lore had not been established within the context of the Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein script.
  • When the Frankenstein Monster breaks free of his bonds on the operating table in the climactic chase/fight scene, one of his neck electrodes clearly pulls off of his neck.

Did you know? Originally the Mummy was to be included in the cast of monsters, but the idea was eventually dropped.