Pixel Scroll 3/27/16 (I’ll Never Be Your) Star Beast of Burden

(1) DANGER WILL ROBINSON! “’Lost in Space’ robot saved from Valley Village fire” reports Daily News.

TV and movie props that included a robot reportedly from TV’s “Lost in Space” were saved from destruction late Wednesday in Valley Village due to the efforts of Los Angeles firefighters.

The LAFD responded about 11:30 p.m. to a garage fire in the 5100 block of Whitsett Avenue. Firefighters attacked the blaze, which was electrical in nature, a fire department spokesman told a photographer at the scene.

The home belongs to a prop designer and special effects artist who was out of town at the time, according to a caretaker who woke to the smell of smoke.

(2) JOCULARITY. Two Easter hams are heard from.

(3) HEARSAY. Mark Evanier’s friend has convinced him this weekend’s blockbuster is “Not the World’s Finest” – as he explains at News From ME.

I don’t have a whole lot of interest in seeing the new Batman Vs. Superman movie, a film which has achieved something I didn’t think was possible. It actually caused my dear friend Leonard Maltin to use the word “sucks” in his review. Even Rob Schneider never managed that and lord, how he tried.

(4) PARAGRAPH FROM A FUTURE TRIP REPORT. GUFF delegate Jukka Halme outlined how he spent the day.

Sunday at Contact 2016 has been a small whirlwind. Moderated my first panel (Through New Eyes), which went really well. Chatted way too long at the Fan Fund table with the Usual Suspects. Bought books. Just a few. Waited ages for my Pad Thai at the hotel restaurant, that was brimming with people and not too many employees, Presented a Ditmar, with a little bit of Bob Silverberg routine (VERY little) to Galactic Suburbia. Held an auction for fan funds, which went smashingly well. And missed the bar, since this is a dry state and while it is apparently OK to sell alcohol during Easter Sunday, places either close up really early, or everybody had left the bar.

(5) AN AUTHOR’S USE OF NAVAJO CULTURE. “Utah author features Navajo characters, history in new science fiction thriller” in Deseret News.

After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, Robison Wells, who lives in Holladay, fell in love with both the area and the people he served. When he wrote his newest book, “Dark Energy” (HarperTeen, $17.99, ages 13 and up), which features several Native American characters and is scheduled to be released March 29, he worried about portraying them in the correct way.

“I wanted to show respect for the culture,” he said. “I didn’t want to appropriate their culture or their traditions.”

He sent his manuscript out to a lot of Navajo readers to get their reactions and tried to adjust his book accordingly. He knew writing a story centering on Native American characters and history would be a difficult and controversial thing to do, but he felt that it was such a compelling story that he had to tell it.

(6) ADDRESS FOR HAMNER CONDOLENCES. Anyone wishing to send a letter or card to the family may do so at the address below.

Jane Hamner
P.O. Box 220038
Newhall, CA 91322

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 27, 1963 — Quentin Tarantino

(8) TODAY’S BLOOD-PRESSURE BOOSTER. Jason Sanford says “The Retro Hugo Awards must be fixed”.

If any particular Worldcon wants to give out Retro Hugos, then e-book and/or online anthologies of eligible authors and stories must be made available to those nominating for the awards. And that must include works which are not in the public domain. Yes, it would take time to do this but I imagine most publishers and/or author estates would be willing to make the stories available for members at no cost.

But even if voters have access to stories from decades ago, it’s still unlikely that as many people will take part in the Retro Hugo nominating process as takes part in nominating for the regular Hugos. This, unfortunately, leaves the Retro Hugos open to missing important works and to being gamed.

To fix this here’s my next suggestion: Use a combination of juries and regular Worldcon members to nominate works for the Retro Hugos. 

I know juries seem like the ultimate insider power play, but when you’re dealing with stories published 75 or 100 years ago it can be useful to have experts in that genre time period also nominating stories. Perhaps the jury could nominate two of the five works in each category, and Worldcon members could nominate three of five. This also seems like a sensible way to make sure the nominated stories are truly the best that year has to offer.

(9) CAN MUSK AFFORD A MARTIAN ODYSSEY? “Neil deGrasse Tyson to Elon Musk: SpaceX Is ‘Delusional’ About Mars”. A writer at The Motley Fool explains Tyson’s reasons.

In less than 10 years from now, SpaceX may or may not beat NASA in the race to Mars. Astrophysicist, Hayden Planetarium director, and host of the National Geographic Channel’s StarTalk Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is placing his bet on “not.”

“The delusion is thinking that SpaceX is going to lead the space frontier. That’s just not going to happen…” Tyson said in an interview with The Verge. Tyson laid out his arguments for why fans of a solo SpaceX trip to Mars suffer from a “delusion.” According to Tyson, there are three main reasons SpaceX cannot go to Mars on its own.

Reason 1: Cost

“So if you’re going to bring in investors or venture capitalists and say, ‘Hey, I have an idea, I want to put the first humans on Mars.’ They’ll ask, ‘How much will it cost?’ You say, ‘A lot,'” Tyson said in the interview.

Tyson says it’s “very expensive” to go to Mars. How expensive? Some estimate $30 billion, but a bill of $160 billion isn’t out of the question, and critics in Congress charge that the total cost could reach $500 billion….

(10) CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? Camestros Felapton is away traveling for a month. During their absence, Timothy the Talking Cat has taken over the blog, and has been busy posting such literary gems as “Timothy retells Dune”.

…Now there was this posh elitist liberal progressive family called the Artyfarties. They like super sucked at making money. The dad was a real wimp and the mum was in some sort of feminist cult. The son looked like the crazy guy in Agents of Shield but younger and more wimpy. The kid Artyfarties thought he was so much smarter than everybody but was a big wimp.

Now Boss Harkonen took pity on the Artyfarties. Big mistake! But he had a kind heart and he hated to see the Artyfarties suck so badly at businessing. So Boss Harkonen says to Dad Artyfarties: “You can run this planet for me. It is the only place you get Old Spice Magic which makes people young and makes spaceships run. It’s a classic monopoly, you can’t go wrong. Just don’t screw it up!” ….

(11) MEASURING SUCTION. Which is worse? Timothy the Cat’s retelling, or David Lynch’s? It’s close. Here’s Jonathan K. Dick’s evaluation of the movie at A.V Club, Dune can’t capture the novel’s incalculable brilliance”.

So what the hell is wrong with Lynch’s Dune? Before the collective “everything” echoes through the internet, it’s important to understand that the phrase itself “Lynch’s Dune” should already throw up the kind of red flags usually reserved for impending, air-raid level danger. Four years removed from his time behind the chair as director for the spirit-lifting biopic The Elephant Man and its eight Academy Award nominations, Lynch received the go-ahead from producer Raffaella De Laurentiis to direct the film adaption of Dune. This after 20 years, no less than 10 directors, producers, screenwriters, scripts, and general filmmaking anxiety that included the likes of Ridley Scott, Rudy Wurlitzer, Robert Greenhut, and of course the brilliantly documented attempt by Alejandro Jodorowsky.

(12) FIRST SEASON FLINTSONES COSPLAY? The Traveler from Galactic Journey amusingly interprets cosplay at this weekend’s WonderCon in terms of what fans knew in 1961 — “[March 27, 1961] What A Wonder! (WonderCon)”.

These are generally smallish affairs compared to their business-oriented cousins, with attendance running into the hundreds.  But for the fan who normally has a local community of just a half-dozen fellows (and perhaps many more as pen pals), going to a convention is like a pilgrimage to Mecca.  One meets people with completely different experiences, different perspectives.  There is the opportunity to get news from far and wide on exciting new projects, both fan and professional.  And the carousing is second to none, both in the heights of enthusiasm and creativity.

Take a look at my newly developed roll of shots from “WonderCon”, a sizeable affair held last weekend in Los Angeles.  These are some dedicated fans, some fabulous costumes, and some terrific times!

First off, a few attendees who came in street clothes: …

(13) MILESTONES ABOVE THE SKY. Motherboard advises that “‘In Space We Trust’ is a Beautiful History of Exploration”

In the timeline (which for all its beauty will entirely monopolize your CPU usage) you navigate the history of space as a young cosmonaut. The timeline begins with the October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik and takes the user through all the major space milestones: first spacecraft, journeys to other planets, landings on celestial bodies.

Each milestone is accompanied by a series of stunning animations, a brief description of the event and a link to a Wikipedia page on the topic in case you want to read more. Your journey is orchestrated with an ethereal soundtrack that is overlaid with sounds from space like cosmonauts on a radio or rocket engines igniting.

 

 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 2/4/16 “Who Nominated J.R.?”

John Hodgman

John Hodgman

(1) HODGMAN TO PRESENT NEBULAS. SFWA has picked comedian John Hodgman to emcee the 50th Annual Nebula Awards in Chicago at the SFWA Nebula Conference on May 14.

John Hodgman is the longtime Resident Expert on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the host of the popular Judge John Hodgman Podcast. He has also appeared on Conan, The Late Late Show, @midnight, and This American Life. The Village Voice named his show Ragnarok one of the top ten stand up specials of 2013. In 2015, he toured his new show Vacationland. He has performed comedy for the President of the United States and George R.R. Martin, and discussed love and alien abduction at the TED conference.

In addition to the Nebula Awards, SFWA will present the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

(2) BYE BYE BABBAGE. Chris Garcia is mourning the withdrawal of the Babbage machine from exhibit from the Computer History Museum.

Babbage Difference Engine No 2

Babbage Difference Engine No 2

After eight years at the Computer History Museum (CHM), the Babbage Difference Engine No. 2 is bidding farewell and returning to its owner.

The Difference Engine No. 2 has had a wonderful home at the Museum. Our Babbage demonstrations have amazed more than 500,000 visitors, providing them with the unprecedented opportunity to see and hear the mechanical engine working—a stunning display of Victorian mechanics.

People will have to content themselves with CHM’s online Babbage exhibit.

Dave Doering said:

I figure they knew the price would one day come due for the chance to host it there for eight years. I mean, everyone today knows about “excess Babbage fees.”

(3) ASTEROID BELT AND SUSPENDERS. The government of Luxembourg announced it will be investing in the as-yet-unrealized industry of asteroid mining in “Luxembourg Hopes To Rocket To Front of Asteroid-Mining Space Race”. An NPR article says there are both technical and legal hurdles to overcome.

First, of course, there are technical challenges involved in finding promising targets, sending unmanned spacecraft to mine them and returning those resources safely to Earth.

Humans have yet to successfully collect even a proof-of-concept asteroid sample. …

The second issue is a legal one. Asteroids are governed by the Outer Space Treaty, nearly 50 years old now, which says space and space objects don’t belong to any individual nation. What that means for mining activities has never been tested in international courts because, well, nobody’s managed to mine an asteroid yet.

But there’s a fair amount of uncertainty, as Joanne Gabrynowicz, a director at the International Institute of Space Law, told NPR’s Here & Now last February.

“Anybody who wants to go to an asteroid now and extract a resource is facing a large legal open question,” she said.

The U.S. passed a law near the end of last year, the Space Act of 2015, which says American companies are permitted to harvest resources from outer space. The law asserts that extracting minerals from an extraterrestrial object isn’t a declaration of sovereignty. But it’s not clear what happens if another country passes a contradictory law, or if treaties are arranged that cover extraction of minerals from space.

Luxembourg hopes to address this issue, too, with a formal legal framework of its own — possibly constructed with international input — to ensure that those who harvest minerals can be confident that they’ll own what they bring home.

(4) WRITERS WHO THINK UP STUFF. Steven H Silver points out, “Of the authors listed in 8 Things Invented By Famous Writers at Mental Floss, Heinlein, Wolfe, Clarke, Atwood, Carroll, Dahl, and arguably Twain are SF authors.”

  1. THE PRINGLES CHIP MACHINE // GENE WOLFE

Prior to beginning his contributions to the science fiction genre with The Fifth Head of Cerberus in 1972, Wolfe was a mechanical engineering major who accepted a job with Procter & Gamble. During his employment, Wolfe devised a way for the unique, shingle-shaped Pringles chips to be fried and then dumped into their cylindrical packaging. (Despite his resemblance to Mr. Pringle, there is no evidence the chip mascot was based on him.)

(5) POLAR BOREALIS PREMIERES. The first issue of R. Graeme Cameron’s semipro fiction magazine Polar Borealis has been posted. Get a free copy here. Cameron explains how the magazine works:

Polar Borealis is aimed at beginning Canadian writers eager to make their first sale, with some pros to provide role models.

In Issue #1:

  • Art by Jean-Pierre Normand, Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk, and Taral Wayne.
  • Poems by Rissa Johnson, Eileen Kernaghan, and Rhea Rose.
  • Stories by Christel Bodenbender, R. Graeme Cameron, Steve Fahnestalk, Karl Johanson, Rissa Johnson, Kelly Ng, Craig Russell, Robert J. Sawyer, T.G. Shepherd, Casey June Wolf, and Flora Jo Zenthoefer.

(6) A RATHER LARGE SCIENCE FAIR. The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, to be held March 16-19 in Birmingham, “is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK.”

Held at the NEC, Birmingham 16-19 March 2016, The Big Bang Fair is an award-winning combination of exciting theatre shows, interactive workshops and exhibits, as well careers information from STEM professionals.

We aim to show young people (primarily aged 7-19) the exciting and rewarding opportunities out there for them with the right experience and qualifications, by bringing classroom learning to life.

Having grown from 6,500 visitors in its first year (2009) to nearly 70,000 in 2015, The Big Bang Fair is made possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of over 200 organisations

(7) JUST NEEDS A LITTLE SMACK. Michael Swanwick, in the gracious way people do on the internet, expressed his bad opinion of the movie I, Robot (2004) in these terms:

Just watched I, ROBOT. I want to punch everybody involved in the face. Very, very hard. Dr. Asimov would approve.

[Okay, to spare people’s feelings, I want to punch THOSE RESPONSIBLE in the face. Still hated the movie.]

This ticked off Jeff Vintar, who wrote the original spec script and shared credit for the screenplay. Vintar posted a 1,200 word comment telling how his original script got turned into an “adaptation” and how these links of Hollywood sausage got made.

Having been one of the film’s biggest critics, I have watched over the years — to my surprise — as many people find quite a bit of Asimov still in it. I’m always glad when I read a critical analysis on-line or a university paper that makes the case that it is more Asimov than its reputation would suggest, or when I get contacted by a real roboticist who tells me they were inspired by the movie and went on to a career in robotics. And then of course there are the kids, who love it to death…

But I never go around defending the film or talking about it, because although I still believe my original script would have made a phenomenal ‘I, Robot’ film, there is no point. That any film gets made at all seems at times like a miracle.

But your stupid, yes stupid, ‘punch in the face’ post compelled me to write. I love Asimov as much as you do, probably more, because of all the time I spent living and breathing it. I also wrote an adaptation of Foundation that I spent years and years fighting for.

So, you want to punch me in the face? My friend, I would have already knocked you senseless before you cocked back your arm. I have been in this fight for more than twenty years. You’re a babe in the woods when it comes to knowing anything about Hollywood compared to me, and what it’s like fighting for a project you love for ten years, some for twenty years and counting.

Yet this exchange did not end the way most of these Facebook contretemps do.

Michael Swanwick answered:

I feel bad for you. That must have been an awful experience. But I spoke as a typical viewer, not as a writer. The movie was like the parson’s egg — parts of it were excellent, but the whole thing was plopped down on the plate. For my own part, I’d love to have the Hollywood money, but have no desire at all to write screenplays. I’ve heard stories like yours before.

Then Vintar wrote another long reply, which said in part:

Other writers are not our enemies. We are not fighting each other, not competing with each other, although that is a powerful illusion. As always the only enemy is weakness within ourselves, and I suppose entropy, the laws of chance, and groupthink. Ha, there are others! But I stopped throwing punches a long time ago. (Believe me, I used to.) You guys are great, thanks Michael….

And the love fest began.

(8) OGDEN OBIT. Jon P. Ogden (1944-2016), devoted Heinlein fan and member of the Heinlein Society, died January 27, Craig Davis and David Lubkin reported on Facebook. [Via SF Site News.]

(9) ALASKEY OBIT. Voice actor Joe Alaskey, who took over performing Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck after actor Mel Blanc died in 1989, himself passed away February 3. CNN reports the 63-year-old actor had been battling cancer.

Mark Evanier’s tribute to Alaskey on News From Me also tells about one of his vocal triumphs outside the realm of animation —

When [Jackie] Gleason’s voice needed to be replicated to fix the audio on the “lost” Honeymooners episodes, Joe was the man.

A few years after that, Joe was called upon to redub an old Honeymooners clip for a TV commercial. When he got the call, Joe assured the ad agency that if they needed him, he could also match the voice of Art Carney as Ed Norton. He was told they already had someone to do that — someone who did it better. Joe was miffed until he arrived at the recording session and discovered that the actor they felt could do a better job as Art Carney…was Art Carney. Joe later said that playing Kramden to Carney’s Norton was the greatest thrill of his life, especially after Carney asked him for some pointers on how to sound more like Ed.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

cranky-snickers_0

  • February 4, 1930 – The Snickers bar hits the market.
  • February 4, 1938 — Disney releases Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (Did Disney miss a product placement opportunity by naming a dwarf Grumpy instead of Cranky?)

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CLUB

  • February 4, 1976 – Sfera, the oldest SF society in former Yugoslavia, was founded.

[Via Google Translate] On this day in 1976, a group of young (and less young) enthusiasts launched as part of the astronautical and rocket club Zagreb “Section for science fiction”…

(12) TODAY’S BITHDAY BOY

(13) WEIRD AL CAST. “Weird Al” Yankovic will voice the title character in Milo Murphy’s Law, Disney XD’s animated comedy series, reports Variety.

The satirical songwriter will provide the voice of the titular character Milo Murphy, the optimistic distant grandson of the famed Murphy’s Law namesake. In addition to voicing the main character, Yankovic will sing the show’s opening theme song and perform other songs throughout the duration of the series….

“Milo Murphy’s Law” will follow the adventures of Milo and his best friends Melissa and Zack as they attempt to embrace life’s catastrophes with positive attitudes and enthusiasm.

(14) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day posted four picks for the Best Fancast category today.

(15) SAD PUPPIES. Damien G. Walter japed:

(16) PUPPY COMPARISON. Doris V. Sutherland posted “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Novellas”, the third installment, the purpose of which she explains in the introduction —

In this series on the Sad Puppies controversy, I have been comparing the works picked for the 2015 Sad and Rabid Puppies slates with the stories that were nominated for the Hugo in 2014. Were the previous nominees truly overwhelmed with preachy “message fiction”? What kinds of stories had the Sad Puppies chosen to promote in response?

Having taken a look at the Best Short Story and Best Novelette categories, I shall now cover the Hugo Awards’ final short fiction category: Best Novella, the section for stories of between 17,500 and 40,000 words in length. Let us see how the two sets of stories compare…

At the end of her interesting commentary, she concludes:

…Let us take a look through some of the previously-discussed categories. Aside from Vox Day’s story, only one of the 2014 Best Novelette nominees can be read as “message fiction”: Aliette de Bodard’s “The Waiting Stars,” which has an anti-colonial theme. I have also heard the accusation of propaganda directed at John Chu’s “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, a story about a gay couple. But once again, I see nothing clumsy or poorly-handled about de Bodard’s exploration of colonialism or Chu’s portrayal of a same-sex couple. So far, the accusation of preachiness appears to be based largely Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, which has the straightforward message that hate begets hate.

None of these stories push a specific message as strongly or as directly as John C. Wright’s One Bright Star to Guide Them. This raises an obvious question: exactly which group is rewarding message fiction here…?

[Thanks to Gary Farber, JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Brian Z., Steven H Silver, Jumana Aumir, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

2015 Bill Finger Award To McGregor, Stanley

Don McGregor and the late John Stanley have been selected to receive the 2015 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing, which is given under the auspices of San Diego Comic-Con International. Each year the selection committee, chaired by Mark Evanier, selects two recipients, one living and one deceased.

Don McGregor began his career writing comic books with work for Warren (Creepy, Eerie) in 1971, and in 1972 he joined the editorial staff at Marvel Comics. Before long, he was writing for Marvel where his work became known for its unique voice. His runs with the character Black Panther in Jungle Action and on Killraven in Amazing Adventures drew strong fan response, as did his later efforts for other publishers: Detectives, Inc; Sabre, Nathaniel Dusk, and the acclaimed Ragamuffins. He also wrote Zorro both for comic books and comic strips.

McGregor will receive his award in a ceremony at Comic-Con on July 10.

John Stanley is best known for writing and occasionally drawing Little Lulu for Dell Comics from 1945 to 1959, turning Marge’s single-panel gag cartoon into a popular and hilarious series of stories and creating most of the supporting cast for Lulu’s world. His rich characterizations and humor made for a memorable series, and he applied those skills to other Dell and Gold Key comics, including Nancy and Sluggo, Melvin Monster, O.G. Whiz, and Thirteen (Going On Eighteen). As with his contemporary Carl Barks, Stanley’s work was almost completely anonymous, but avid fans unearthed the secret of who was doing that superb work. Stanley left comics for other work in the early seventies and passed away in 1993.

His Finger Award will be accepted by his son, James.

In addition to Evanier, the selection committee consists of Charles Kochman (executive editor at Harry N. Abrams, book publisher), comic book writer Kurt Busiek, artist/historian Jim Amash, cartoonist Scott Shaw!, and writer/editor Marv Wolfman.

The Bill Finger Award honors the memory of William Finger (1914–1974), the first writer of Batman. Many have called him the “unsung hero” of the character. The award was created in 2005 at the instigation of Jerry Robinson.

Stan Freberg (1926-2015)

Stan Freberg, in the days when he voiced puppet characters on "Time for Beany."

Stan Freberg, in the days when he voiced puppet characters on “Time for Beany.”

Revered satirist and actor Stan Freberg died April 7 at the age of 88. His body of work included more than 400 voiceovers for Warner Bros. animation, comedy albums, TV shows like Time for Beany and The Chun King Comedy Hour, and funny commercials for which he won 21 Clio Awards. Time magazine said his 1961 album Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America may have been the “finest comedy album ever recorded.”

He extolled the power of radio advertising in this unforgettable bit —

PAUL FREES: Radio? Why should I advertise on radio? There’s nothing to look at, no pictures…

STAN FREBERG: Look, you can do things on radio you couldn’t possibly do on tv.

FREES: That’ll be the day.

FREBERG: All right, watch this…ahem, okay people, now when I give you the cue, I want the 700 foot mountain of whipped cream to roll into Lake Michigan, which has been drained and filled with hot chocolate. Then the Royal Canadian Air Force will fly overhead towing a 10-tom maraschino cherry, which will be dropped into the whipped cream to the cheering of 25,000 extras. All right – cue the mountain!

Freberg was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.

He also believed in humorous TV commercials and is remembered for taglines like “Today the pits; tomorrow the wrinkles. Sunsweet marches on!,” and Contadina’s “Who put eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can?”

Freberg was close friends with Ray Bradbury. Ray served as best man when Stan married his first wife, Donna — Ray having introduced the newlyweds.

In the Sixties, Freberg put Ray in one of his Sunsweet Prunes commercials. Freberg ‘s narrator praises Ray’s power to predict the future as Ray repeatedly interrupts, “But I never mentioned prunes in any of my stories!”

The two friends had a reunion in the aisles at the 2009 Comic Con when Freberg was 82 and Bradbury was 88 — both made the rounds in wheelchairs. Just a few years later Freberg was among the speakers at Comic Con’s Bradbury memorial (2012).

Ray Bradbury and Stan Freberg at Comic Con 2009

Jerry Beck recalls, “He thanked me, often, for giving him credit in print for all the Warner Bros. cartoons he had a part in. He had been miffed that he was unable to get screen credit (Mel Blanc had an exclusive credit by contract) – save for one classic Friz Freleng short, Three Little Bops (1957).”

Mark Evanier’s tribute mentions —

Stan was the guy who’d been at it the longest. He recorded his first cartoon voice roles in 1945 for release in 1946. As far as I know, his last job was in an episode of The Garfield Show I voice-directed last year. It’s currently scheduled to run on Cartoon Network this October, giving Stan a career span of 69 years.

Once when Frank Sinatra toured Australia, he took along Freberg as his opening act.

Freberg’s first wife, the former Donna Andresen, died in 2000. In addition to his son, Donavan, he is survived by his wife, Hunter; his daughter, Donna Jean; and one granddaughter.

Update 04/11/2015: Corrected info about Bradbury introducing Freberg to his wife — it was Donna that Ray introduced to Stan.

Net Spreads News of Bradbury House Teardown

John King Tarpinian’s photos and story about the demolition of Ray Bradbury’s house have reached  a wide audience and touched a lot of hearts in the past 24 hours.

Bloggers also are weighing in —

Brett at Screen Door Revolution has these trenchant comments in Dear Smart People: YOU ARE LOSING THE CULTURE WAR:

There’s little doubt in my mind that, say, James Franco’s house will someday be preserved as a culturally-significant landmark for future generations to behold, gilded and immortalized for all-time, and hailed as a triumph of freedom.

I apologize if perhaps this notion seems, at first, overly cynical, but it’s not hard to look around and read the tea leaves. The Gatsby house is allowed to crumble and Ray Bradbury’s house knocked down for the sum of $1.7 million, thus depriving future generations the ability to physically visit those places where the stuff of dreams was quite literally created. And what exactly of significance and value are we leaving in place of that loss? Another Walgreens? Another CVS or horrifying McDonald’s? And nowhere interesting to visit besides Disneyland?

Brian Sibley in The Magician’s House calls upon cherished memories and has more great photos of the house and various Bradbury artifacts.

Painted the yellow of Dandelion Wine, the house was an extension of the man: it was the place where he crafted novels, short stories, plays, essays and poetry and it was crammed full of Bradburyness: his own books, of course, but those, too, of the writers and artists he loved, and then, all those paintings and pictures: animation and comic-book art and the work of two of his favourite artists: the mysterious Gothic or futuristic visions of Joe Mugnaini (who illustrated so many of his books) and stunning landscapes by Eyvind Earle, also known as the man responsible for styling Disney’s most stylish animated feature, Sleeping Beauty. Not to mention all the toys, trinkets, trivia, nick-knacks ad geegaws…

Also noteworthy is Mark Evanier’s News From Me post A Sound of Thunder published last weekend immediately after the story broke:

I just read some online messages that when they quit the demolition work on Friday, the house was without a roof. And now it’s raining in Los Angeles…

Those of you who are familiar with Ray’s story “There Will Come Soft Rains” will appreciate the imagery.

Eyewitnesses to Ellison’s Recovery

Many friends of Harlan Ellison visited him in the hospital on October 13 and say he’s faring well after his recent stroke.

Harlan Ellison and Josh Olson at Cinefamily in 2011.

Harlan Ellison and Josh Olson at Cinefamily in 2011.

Josh Olson told The Harlan Ellison Facebook Fanclub:

I just got back from the hospital. Harlan was in fine form, and being visited by Mark Evanier, Alan Brennert, David Gerrold and Kim and Kanye. A damn fine group of folks.

I mentioned that all over the interwebs, people were wishing him well, and offering to send him prayers and good wishes, and he suggested that instead of that, they all go to http://www.harlanellisonbooks.com and buy some of his fucking books.

Patton Oswalt’s ears were still echoing Ellison’s farewell:

“I gotta go do some physical therapy on my stupid fucking arm.” — actual quote from when I spoke to Harlan Ellison earlier. He’ll be fine.

Harlan Ellison and Patton Oswalt in 2013. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Harlan Ellison and Patton Oswalt in 2013. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Mark Evanier tweeted:

Visited Harlan Ellison at the hospital after his minor stroke. More energy and wit than most folks who haven’t had a stroke.

And Evanier blogged Alan Brennert’s Facebook account of their visit:

So today my pal Mark Evanier and I went to see my old friend and colleague Harlan Ellison, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered last week. This was without a doubt the cheeriest, often laugh-out-loud funniest, hospital visit I’ve ever paid. Harlan’s right arm and leg may be paralyzed, but his mind and wit definitely are not. He kept answering the phone, “Hello, Just This Side of Death, how can I help you?” and continued in his futile attempts to explain who Vera Hruba Ralston was to the very efficient, very nice, very young doctors and nurses caring for him.

Mark and I showed up as Harlan was finishing his physical therapy, and we were soon joined by David Gerrold and Josh Olson and his wife Nancy Himmel. There was much more comedy, but we’ll be releasing the entire session on CD and iTunes as Harlan: Live From the Stroke Ward on the Edgeworks label. No, I made that up, but we could have. It was great to see Harlan in such fine form after what could have been such a debilitating injury.

Dennis C. saw Ellison the previous day, October 12, and left these encouraging observations at Ellison’s forum:

His mind is as sharp as ever, his speech is fine, his energy is volcanic as always. He’s going to have physical therapy for those limbs not currently in total control. But Harlan has a will of titanium so I do not doubt that he will win this battle.

I just want everyone to know that he’s our Harlan. No change. Mind moving at FTL speed. He out-talked us for an hour and entertained us with stories, even though we were the ones supposed to be entertaining him. It was a good visit.

The mainstream media also has started to cover this story – at least its more sf savvy members, like Douglas Perry of The Oregonian who ran Dennis C.’s quote and followed up with a personal insight.

This is exactly what anyone who knows Ellison would expect from him. He’s one of the last of a unique American breed: the larger-than-life writer — from Ernest Hemingway to Norman Mailer — who believed it was part of his job to live a big, civically engaged, adventure-filled life. How else could he write big, civically engaged, adventure-filled stories?

Bradbury Farewell Roundup

Makeshift memorial for Ray Bradbury at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale, CA. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Tributes to the late Ray Bradbury are being posted everywhere today.

Mark Evanier
News From Me
Ray Bradbury, R.I.P.

Before we left, he quietly took me aside and invited me to come back without my friends. They were nice kids and all but they didn’t have my commitment to writing so he had “a couple of things” he wanted to say to me and me alone.

Me and me alone went back a week later and he must have spent three hours slathering me with advice. Absolutely none of it was about story content. He didn’t talk about plot or character motivation or plot structure. He talked about being a writer…about living like one, working like one, thinking like one. A lot of it was very pragmatic, about how to not fantasize the profession into something it was not. It was not, for example, a profession where visions pop into your genius brain and you just type them up, send them in and get hailed as brilliant. He had worked damn hard to become Ray Bradbury and every day, he worked damn harder to stay Ray Bradbury.

He did not make me want to become a writer. I was already there. What he did, I suppose, was make me think as follows: Ray Bradbury gave me all that time and encouragement. I can’t waste that.

Io9
R.I.P. Ray Bradbury, Author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles:

His grandson, Danny Karapetian, shared these words with io9 about his grandfather’s passing: “If I had to make any statement, it would be how much I love and miss him, and I look forward to hearing everyone’s memories about him. He influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it’s always really touching and comforting to hear their stories. Your stories. His legacy lives on in his monumental body of books, film, television and theater, but more importantly, in the minds and hearts of anyone who read him, because to read him was to know him. He was the biggest kid I know.”

Lynell George
Los Angeles Times
Sci-fi pioneer Ray Bradbury dies at 91

Bradbury’s poetically drawn and atmospheric fictions—horror, fantasy, shadowy American gothics—explored life’s secret corners: what was hidden in the margins of the official family narrative, or the white noise whirring uncomfortably just below the placid surface. He offered a set of metaphors and life puzzles to ponder for the rocket age and beyond, and has influenced a wide swath of popular culture–from children’s writer R.L. Stine and singer Elton John (who penned his hit “Rocket Man” as an homage), to architect Jon Jerde who enlisted Bradbury to consider and offer suggestions about reimagining public spaces.

She also extensively quoted Gregory Benford’s thoughts about Bradbury’s appeal:

“Nostalgia is eternal. And Americans are often displaced from their origins and carry an anxious memory of it, of losing their origins. Bradbury reminds us of what we were and of what we could be,” Benford said.

“Like most creative people, he was still a child, His stories tell us: Hold on to your childhood. You don’t get another one. I don’t think he ever put that away.”

Gerald Jonas
New York Times
‘Idea Writer’ and Lyrical Master of Science Fiction

An unathletic child who suffered from bad dreams, he relished the tales of the Brothers Grimm and the Oz stories of L. Frank Baum, which his mother read to him. An aunt, Neva Bradbury, took him to his first stage plays, dressed him in monster costumes for Halloween and introduced him to Poe’s stories. He discovered the science-fiction pulps and began collecting the comic-strip adventures of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. A conversation with a carnival magician named Mr. Electrico that touched on immortality gave the 12-year-old Bradbury the impetus to become a writer.

In 1934 the family moved to Los Angeles, where Mr. Bradbury became a movie buff, sneaking into theaters as often as nine times a week. Encouraged by a high school English teacher and the professional writers he met at the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League, he began a lifelong routine of turning out at least a thousand words a day on his typewriter.

Locus Online
Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

Ray Douglas Bradbury was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois.  He moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1934, at age 13, and in 1937 discovered the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. Through that organization he met Forrest J Ackerman, Hannes Bok, Edmond Hamilton, Ray Harryhausen, Robert A. Heinlein, Henry Kuttner, and many other friends who would go on to become SF luminaries.

Gene Seymour
CNN
Bradbury was a writer of perils, possibilities and wonder

Bradbury’s more intelligent and incisive readers found greater resonance in his writing than his deceptively simple approach evoked on the surface.

One such fan was the Argentine fabulist and poet Jorge Luis-Borges, who in his introduction to his Spanish-language translation of “The Martian Chronicles, asked: “What has this man from Illinois done, I ask myself when I close the pages of his book, that episodes from the conquest of another planet fill me with horror and loneliness?”

Alan Duke
CNN
Sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury dies

“For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury’s death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age,” President Obama said. “His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

“He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career,” director Steven Spielberg said. “He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal.”

“Ray Bradbury wrote three great novels and 300 great stories,” author Stephen King said. “One of the latter was called ‘A Sound of Thunder.’ The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant’s footsteps fading away. But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty.”

Jerry Pournelle
Chaos Manor
R.I.P. Ray Bradbury

Ray affected writing more than he intended to: he made short stories look much easier than they are. A lot of new writers fell for that. In the early days Ray was a fantasy writer in a science fiction world – it’s hard to remember that science fiction used to sell much better than fantasy – but he could do science fiction as well, witness Fahrenheit 451. At one time the whole genre was dominated by “ABC”, Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke, although usually someone would quickly add Robert Heinlein. Now the Big Four are gone. They will all be missed.

It’s A Most Wonderful Time of the Year

You know the holidays are here because decorations are going up, traditional music is playing, fans are sending each other carefully nonsectarian greeting cards with pictures of snowflakes or animals that live in the Arctic circle – and friends online are reminding each other to read their favorite humorous and heartwarming blog posts.   

The entire internet tilted to one side yesterday morning as people rushed over to Whatever and read the repost of John Scalzi’s ever-popular “The 10 Least Successful Christmas Holiday Specials of All Time”. It was the first time I’d seen it and is it ever funny.

If you remember what the Mercury Theater did for Halloween you may be surprised to hear what Orson Welles did before the next big holiday:

Listeners of radio’s Columbia Broadcasting System who tuned in to hear a Christmas Eve rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol were shocked when they heard what appeared to be a newscast from the north pole, reporting that Santa’s Workshop had been overrun in a blitzkrieg by Finnish proxies of the Nazi German government.

Today, Facebook users are being prompted to read Mark Evanier’s great anecote about Mel Torme, whose memory is evergreen because he co-wrote and recorded the classic carol which begins “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” There’s a whole encounter which ends:

Then the gent I’d briefed said, “You know, you’re not a bad singer.”  He actually said that to Mel Tormé.

Mel chuckled.  He realized that these four young folks hadn’t the velvet-foggiest notion who he was…

Help Rebuild Len Wein’s Comic Collection

Rebuild Len Wein's Comic Collection

When Len Wein and Christine Valada’s home burned on April 6, as Craig Miller explained, “The master bedroom and bath were burned out. The walls still stand but everything inside, including the ceiling, is gone. Nearby rooms had extreme heat and smoke damage and smoke damage runs throughout. DVDs, artwork, awards, etc. are gone forever.”

Wein’s friend Mark Evanier realized that even though insurance should provide the money to restore the house, many things, including Wein’s comics, were not covered.  Evanier thought it was a particular shame that Wein had lost the collection of comics he himself had worked on – and Evanier knew that, at least, could be fixed:

Some of us thought it would be grand if his friends and fans pitched in to help him recreate those shelves of the comic books he’s worked on.

So the crusade as been launched. At the “Let’s Rebuild Len Wein’s Comic Book Collection Project” site there is a frequently-updated PDF list of what they want, with lineouts of what’s been received. It looks as if half of the needed titles have already been secured, but dozens more are still being sought.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]