The Full-Length Banner

By Bill Higgins: This item is five years old, or in another sense, twenty-six, but I’ve just learned of it.

Isaac Asimov loved “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  Fandom’s music maven Matthew B. Tepper writes: “In March, 1991, Isaac Asimov published an essay in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction entitled ‘All Four Stanzas.’ In it, he gave the background of Francis Scott Key’s ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ (as it has come to be called), and perhaps just as remarkably, speaks of his own love of the anthem, and his habit of singing it with all four stanzas, not just the first one which is generally heard.”

In 2012, Mr. Tepper contributed to YouTube a 1991 audio recording of Asimov, aged 71, singing all four stanzas. Though Asimov’s wit was renowned, he performs here in perfect seriousness.

Asimov’s memorable essay on the song has been rewritten, and appears in garbled form on many sites around the Internet.  Tepper also points out that in 2010,  Eric Scheie made an effort to rescue “All Four Stanzas” from mutilation.  Scheie tracked down the original essay, posted scans of the F&SF pages on which it appeared, and presented an HTML version:

In this moment, while Americans are focusing new attention on “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the meanings with which we invest it, it may be interesting to hear it sung by one who, while granting that his nation had its flaws, greatly loved its anthem– all four stanzas of it.

2016 LA Vintage Paperback Show

2016 Vintage Paperback Show, panoramic view. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

2016 Vintage Paperback Show, panoramic view. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

The 37th Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Show took place April 3 at the Glendale Civic Auditorium.

I finally made it!

It’s a great event. I really enjoyed it. Book dealers fill the exhibit hall, and at a row of tables next to the stage waves of writers and artists autograph their works for fans, free, throughout the day. Some of the people signing when I first arrived were Karen Anderson, Barbara Hambly, and Tim Kirk. Joe Lansdale and his daughter, Kasey, were at one of the dealers tables.

Kasey Lansdale and her father Joe Lansdale.

Kasey Lansdale and her father Joe Lansdale.

On the way in I met Tim and Serena Powers. Tim said he looks in on the File 770 blog, which was nice to hear. I had a long conversation with Marc Schirmeister, who I last saw at Sasquan.

I met artist Tony Gleeson for the first time – an artist often mentioned here in news stories — and he in turn introduced me to author Odie Hawkins.

Quite a few LASFS members were present — Matthew Tepper, Michelle Pincus, Karl Lembke – in addition to the member/authors who were signing. I hear Robert J. Sawyer visited the Loscon table later, after I had gone.

Robert J. Sawyer. Photo by Michelle Pincus.

Robert J. Sawyer. Photo by Michelle Pincus.

While touring the dealer tables I saw lots of classic old stuff — but got a giggle out of seeing a copy of Zotz! Among the precious wares in a glass case. That’s the book which became a (negative) legend and running joke in the LASFS Xmas Gift Exchange — even though it’s a hardcover, you couldn’t get credit for contributing ZOTZ! as a gift unless you included with it something else that was worth the minimum. One year I unwrapped a copy which came with a $5 bill…

The event staff were doing a really good job — seemed to have an eye open for everything, and treated people very nicely.

I can’t end without mentioning the Civic Auditorium’s rather odd parking structure. The property is built into a hillside. You enter the structure on the bottom level, as you would expect, however, to exit you have to drive all the way up to the roof — which puts you on a level with another driveway to the street.

Tepper, Levin Marry

Debra Levin and Matthew Tepper wed in a Jewish ceremony at the LASFS clubhouse on June 30 in the presence of about 75 family members and friends.

A canopy lifted on four poles was carried into the main meeting room by members of the wedding party including John DeChancie and David Gerrold.  The canopy was blue fabric with an elaborate yellow design.

The principals came forward in procession, Rabbi Marcia Minsky, who presided over the ceremony, Tepper in a top hat and black tuxedo, and Levin wearing a white wedding gown beautifully trimmed in lace.

Minsky was assisted by Mark Poliner. Tom Safer cued the music. Other participants included Joyce Sperling, Eylat Poliner, Charles Lee Jackson II and Jerry Pournelle, plus several more whose names I didn’t know.

At the appropriate point in the ceremony, various people had the honor of reading one of the seven blessings, in Hebrew if they were able, otherwise in English translation. Jerry Pournelle recited the third blessing in English: “Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who creates man.” Barry and Lee Gold did a glorious job reading the lengthy seventh blessing, first in Hebrew, and then in translation.

Matthew waved off the applause that began when people thought the service had ended, because he still needed to stamp on the glass – then the couple was introduced and applause resumed.

LASFS officers figured prominently in the service. The groom is club president, while his bride is vice-president-elect. Marcia Minsky and Eylat Poliner, are co-vice-presidents, and Charles Lee Jackson II is a Special Advisor.

It was a great occasion, and a chance to greet some old friends including Elst and Carole Weinstein, Regina Renante, Marty Cantor, and quite a few of those named above.

Tepper, Levin Engaged

LASFS member Matthew Tepper has announced his engagement to Debra Levin:

Debra Levin and I plan to get married this coming October. At present I’m 58 and she’s 45. This will be my first, and her second; she is the widow of Rob Levin, aka “Lilo,” founder of Freenode.

The long-time bachelor says that when he announced this news at last Thursday’s club meeting he asked Karl Lembke to play “The World Turned Upside Down” on his computer. I know that tune was played when the Brits surrendered at Yorktown. But I asked him if the reference is apposite – after all, Matthew wants to surrender to matrimony!

So Matthew pitched this Shakespearean reference instead: “[A]nd in such great letters as they write ‘Here is good horse to hire’ let them signify under my sign ‘Here you may see Benedick, the married man.’”

Zounds!

John Hertz on Bradbury’s 89th Birthday Party

By John Hertz: If you thought an 89th-birthday party for Ray Bradbury at a bookshop would be crowded, you’d be right. If you thought it would be an occasion to buy his books and get them signed, you’d be right. As June Moffatt said when I reported by phone, these were good things.

Bookfellows, 238 N. Brand Bl., Glendale, CA 91203 (also called “Mystery and Imagination”, the name of their Website), is a new- and used-book shop with a fine s-f stock. The party started at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 22nd, Bradbury’s actual birthday. The Cosmic Joker keeps making me type “Bardbury”. This too may be a good thing.

On a giant greeting-card shopowners Christine & Malcolm Bell had written “You’re a living book”, so below I wrote “because you’ve set us all afire”. A chocolate cake with orange icing was decorated with a Jack-o’-lantern wearing eyeglasses. We all sang “Happy Birthday”.

Outside, which was no less crowded, only different, George Clayton Johnson was talking about heroes. I said, “You yourself are one of the heroes.” He said, “You’re observant as ever.” I bowed. He did too.

Inside, Matthew Tepper and Charles Lee Jackson II told me they hadn’t known about the party, just came looking for books. Tepper said, “This is the second time I’ve gone to a bookshop and found Ray Bradbury there.” It was so crowded Tepper took out a handphone and called Christine Bell to ask whether she had a book he wanted.

I told Jan Bender I was sad she hadn’t exhibited in the Worldcon Art Show at Montréal. She said she’d been daunted by the prospect of Customs problems. I asked if she’d tried the special procedure the Art Show had worked out, better, I’d heard, than Torcon III in 2003. She said she’d heard nothing from the Worldcon at all, indeed wondering if her Attending Membership payment had gotten lost, so that upon arriving she dutifully paid for an Attending Membership only to be asked farther down the line “Why do you want two Attending Memberships?”

Bo Derek brought Bradbury a birthday present, which shows how little I know about celebrities. It was a good party.

LASFS Cuts the Birthday Cake

The Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League (No. 4) began meeting in 14-year-old Roy Test Jr.’s family garage in 1934. On October 28, the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society celebrated 70 years of friendship and fanac. Founding member Forrest J Ackerman performed the duty of gaveling the 3,507th meeting to order with President Van Wagner’s pink plastic lobster.

For Ackerman, Len and June Moffatt, this was their second consecutive day of celebration. A group of eofans gathered on October 27, the real anniversary, at their old stomping grounds, Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown LA. Local TV news covered the get-together because it also included those teenaged fans who grew up to have stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen.

The October 28 club meeting drew around a hundred fans, about evenly divided between the usual crowd of active members and old-timers from bygone decades. The more widely-known regulars included John Hertz, Joe Minne (who introduced me to LASFS), Rick Foss, Matthew Tepper, Elayne Pelz, Drew Sanders, Charles Lee Jackson 2, Marc Schirmeister, Marty Massoglia, Christian McGuire (L.A.con IV chair), Francis Hamit, Leigh Strother-Vien, Ed Green, Liz Mortensen, John DeChancie, Marty Cantor, Tadao Tomomatsu (“Mr. Shake Hands Man”) and Mike Donahue. Some of the graybeards present were notables in national fandom back in the day, like Arthur J. Cox, and others remain well-known, like Fred Patten, John Trimble, William Ellern, Dwain Kaiser and Don Fitch.