A Place, a World

By John Hertz:  Today is World Poetry Day.

I’ve called attention to Hâfez, Homer, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Li Po, and Wallace Stevens, not to mention Elizabeth Barrett Browning – oops, too late.

So here’s something by E. E. Cummings. I found it on a Poetry In Motion bookmark.

love is a place

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

Hoping you are the same.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #27

The author, enjoying some peach moscato, 26 February 2018

 The State of My Union – An Personal Assessment

By Chris M. Barkley:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.

– John Allen Paulos

Until recently, I really hadn’t given too much thought to the opening to Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, which remains one of the most memorable opening lines of any English language novel.

But it became uppermost in my mind when I sat down to write this particular column. I wanted to express my unease at how I look at the world and how it is balanced out by the joy of being alive in this time and place.

I paired Dickens with a quote from eminent mathematician John Allen Paulos because it perfectly summarizes the same point Dickens had made more than a century earlier. While I despair about the condition of our world, I am continuingly amazed at how aware I am and the amazing technology and we have at our fingertips each day.

On the evening of January 31st, my partner Juli and I went to see an excellent historical drama about the Pentagon papers, The Post. Staying home and watching The State of the Union Address was out of the question.

For the most obvious of reasons; the United States is currently led by a vile, anti-intellectual and profoundly stupid man. And by writing that, I want to extend an apology to all stupid people.

As we drove home, I began thinking about what was going to be the subject this column (who is intimately involved with The Post) but as I sat down to write it, I changed my mind.

This column, which is now more than a year old, was intended to be a sounding board for my thoughts and concerns about all things fannish. Looking back, I see that while there were some pretty serious columns, it seems that lately, it has been a little too top-heavy with media related reviews. So, it seems as though I was long overdue for an introspective look at something else. Myself.

My heath is rather nominal. I say rather because while I feel well enough, I have discovered after a discussion with my doctor, that I have been undergoing an extended bout of hyperglycemia brought on by my overuse of Splenda. I know how crazy that sounds but it is true. This is particularly bad news for me because I am a fanatical tea drinker and I like it sweet. Since I have type-2 diabetes, I just assumed it was safe for me to put 4 or five packs of Splendas in a 16 ounce serving. My body had different ideas. The theory is that my body, in the absence of real sugar, has been tricked into producing more sugar and insulin (with a sidecar of dopamine) which, in turn, has thrown everything out of whack.

My doctor has given me eight weeks to get my blood sugars under control or I will be prescribed to undergo insulin injections. Needless to say, my fear of needles is driving my urge to eat properly, walk and exercise on a daily basis.

Officially, I have been unemployed since April 30th of last year. I walked away from my position as the periodicals manager at one of the best independent bookstores in America I felt undervalued by the management and my boss was…well, let’s just say I lost confidence in her and let it go at that.

My current job right now is being a primary caretaker of my two-year-old granddaughter, Lily Bug. She is a delight to watch and I am quite privileged watching her growing and learning each day. She learns quickly and has an uncanny knack of showing that she is self-aware and confidently self-assured before she turned a year old, which I found a bit unusual for someone her age.

As the only child (at the moment), Lily is afforded special privileges from her overly indulgent, such as her Christmas gift of a thirteen-foot-diameter trampoline, which she lovingly calls “jumpy-jumpy”.

I’m also looking forward to her being properly potty-trained by her parents REAL SOON NOW because I would really like to put my toxic waste disposal days behind me.

Books are my life. I have sold them for over a quarter of a century and reading them all of my life. I am overwhelmed with books. I have a very bad habit of starting several books at once so my nightstand is rather swamped at the moment:

Tau Zero (1970) by Poul Anderson; this would be a perfect vehicle for a director like Kathryn Bigelow, Alex Garland or Duncan Jones. Someone should send a copy to each of them so there would be a bidding war. If you haven’t read it, it is one of the finest examples of hard adventure sf ever written.

Mary Astor’s Purple Diary (2016) written and illustrated by Edward Sorel – The Great Sex Scandal of 1936; Mary Astor was a revered character actress in the golden Age of Hollywood. Her personal life became fodder for the tabloid press when her affair with playwright George S. Kaufman was revealed because her salacious diary was discovered by her husband, Doctor Franklyn Thorpe. To say that hijinks ensued would be an incredible understatement. Woody Allen, in a rare move into literary criticism, infamously reviewed this tome for the New York Times Review of Books, which led to a backlash of virulent protest against the book editor, Pamela Paul. As Spock would say, fascinating…

The Nashville Chronicles (2000) by Jan Stuart; a lucky find at a library book sale because I had NO IDEA this book existed. Nashville is one of my top ten favorites of all time and I am enjoying this book as much as I adore Aljean Harmetz’s making of Casablanca, Round Up the Usual Suspects.

Will Eisner’s The Spirit: A Celebration of 75 Years (2015); When I started digging into the history of comics back in 1967, the very first book I came across was Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes. I skipped all of the mumbo jumbo analysis that I could barely understand and dove right into the comics. The most thrilling find was Eisner’s tough talking masked man, a comic strip hero I’d never heard of before. I instantly became a lifelong fan.

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (2017); This is a compilation of the ten short stories that comprise the first season of the Amazon Prime series that dropped in late December.

Of course, once the Hugo nominations are announced, all of the above will be put aside to assess what I will be voting on…

There are some days that some of my most creative writing is done on Facebook. While I find it personally satisfying to get the better of trolls and other malcontents whom I verbally cross swords with, but it is very distracting and very time-consuming. I could be doing research, reading and honing my craft and so I might stand a chance of getting paid for this writing gig some day.

But I am passionate about a few things online; censorship, police relations with the public, political corruption of all stripes and most of all, gun control. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida two weeks ago [at the time this was written] pointedly illustrated out how polarized and partisan Americans feel about the struggle between those who strive to protect their gun rights against gun control advocates.

I don’t want to confiscate anyone’s guns unless it is absolutely necessary. I have only held an actual firearm in my hands twice in my entire life. I have no problem telling anyone that guns terrify me. I’ve been stopped by police officers over a dozen times and managed to survive all of those encounters. I have no need of a gun and absolutely no desire to own one right now. I sincerely doubt I will change my mind but I remain open to being trained one day, just in case.

But over the past few weeks, I have compulsively and aggressively engaged many people on this issue, especially the overly officious people who would dismiss the survivors of the Parkland Massacre because they do not meet their narrow and dogmatic standards:

R: Yes. I have around 70 years familiarity with weapons of all kinds, weapons history (not talking just firearms, here), and literally 50 years of participation in the FAPOL (Firearms And Politics) arena. I pretty much qualify as an expert.

What they saw was horrible, but has absolutely no relevance to what they say about guns, gun owners, or gun laws – I haven’t heard one speak yet who wasn’t absolutely clueless on the subject.

When people insist on vague – or specific but ridiculous – changes to something they don’t know anything about and get wrong every time they open their mouths, it leaves people who do know something about the subject staring at them like they have their heads on backwards.

The fact that they, and other people like them, refuse to listen when you try to educate them, or correct their misstatements, doesn’t buy them any credit whatsoever – it subtracts from whatever credit they started with, and ultimately it gets them ignored as irrelevant.

ME: R, I am ten years younger than you. I have seen plenty myself. I have no problem telling you that you are dead wrong. As wrong as Johnson and Nixon were about the protesters of the Vietnam war. I could cite other examples, but you should keep that one primarily in mind. Historical movements have been started with less provocation. The kids who survived that ordeal on Valentine’s Day are now the spokespersons for an ENTIRE GENERATION who have had enough of the proliferation of guns, enough of the platitudes of politicians who have been paid off in money and influence by the NRA to do their bidding, enough of attitudes like yours, R., that weapons and the right to own and carry them are more important than their rights and their lives.

It’s all going to change R, whether you like it or not.

Change is hard. You can sit on the sidelines harping about these kids all you want.

You can’t stop them. You won’t stop them.

With their help, am I hoping they will be the vanguard of a range of social changes, and that sir, will bloody well include gun control in various forms.

Now, either you or your friends can continue to be part if the problem or you can be part of the solution. I intend to be in the right of history.

I’m supporting these kids.

Mind you, R. was at a distinct disadvantage because I was watching the recent Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour and I felt as though I was directly channeling him as I was tapping out this reply.

And there was this exchange:

V.L.: I believe in liberty and the constitution. The 2cond amendment and the individual right to bear arms is guaranteed by our constitution and upheld by the Supreme Court in the Heller case. As a reasonable person I’m open to some of the ideas being discussed; raising the age to 21 for purchase of certain weapons, universal background checks, banning bump stocks ect. The ‘assault weapons’ ban has zero merit. There’s nothing about guns made with black polymer that look like military weapons that make them more deadly than ordinary wooden semi-automatic rifles. It’s really magazine capacity, not the gun, that makes mass shootings more deadly. My issue with many on the left is they don’t believe people should own guns at all, or they say everyone should be allowed to own a musket because that’s what was available when the founding fathers penned the Constitution. The rationale of the 2cond amendment was a well armed militia to defend the country from a tyrannical government (which had just occurred) so the weapons of the militia should be equivalent to those of the government. I’m not advocating that citizens have access to tanks and rockets, but at the same time the 2cond amendment never had to do with hunting which is now what the left uses as the ‘need’ for guns. “I don’t want to take away Uncle John’s hunting gun”… This was never the basis for the second amendment. Murder is already illegal. Guns shouldn’t be the main focus; hardening school security should be.

To V.L.: ”Hardening school security”? What are you suggesting? Because it sounds like you’re suggesting more of a settling for a prison than school.

And, for the record, those of us who are level-headed folks who believe in some changes in the gun laws want law abiding gun owners to STOP acting like the 2nd Amendment, as written, is the most important thing in your lives. Your “gun rights” are not more vital than any human life.

We want to live in a world where guns are just as hard to buy as houses, cars and a Lear jet. That would include licensing, insurance for each weapon and regular recertification. Anyone caught without those accreditations should be prosecuted to within an inch of their lives and jailed.

THAT’S what we want. Some ideas in your post are a good start. But they don’t go far enough. Either you’re part of the problem or you’re part of the solution.

Choose.

Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado stated in an interview on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on February 27 that on the whole, we are terrorizing ourself over what to do about gun violence in America. When he was asked by host Rachel Martin whether or not the country had reached a tipping point on gun control with the Parkland tragedy, he said, “Well, there’s an accumulation of sorrow. And I think people’s hearts are just breaking, and there is a frustration now. For the first time, I keep hearing people talking about, you know, long-term Republican funders saying they’re going to fund people based on how they respond to gun safety, the introduction of gun safety laws, and that’s new. I mean, I haven’t heard that before where Republicans, who historically have been fighting for, you know, more traditional Republican goals, right? Lower taxes, smaller government, that kind of thing. Now they’re looking at gun safety as a large enough issue that it will define who they donate money to and who they vote for.”

I plan on working on posting a Gun Safety Manifesto to Change.org in the next month or so. The emphasis of the petition will be on gun safety, not “gun rights. Gun culture, either through the machinations of the National Rifle Association or other gun rights groups have had their day. Repealing or changing the Second Amendment will be on the table one day soon.

The sooner the better I think.

“Those who never change their minds never change anything.”
-Winston Churchill

Dedicated to the students, faculty and administrators of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

2018 Recommended SF/F List

By JJ: This thread is for posts about 2018-published works, which people have read and recommend to other Filers.

There will be no tallying of recommendations done in this thread; its purpose is to provide a source of recommendations for people who want to find something to read which will be Hugo-eligible next year.

You don’t have to stop recommending works in Pixel Scrolls, please don’t! But it would be nice if you also post here, to capture the information for other readers.

The Suggested Format for posts is:

  • Title, Author, Published by / Published in (Anthology, Collection, Website, or Magazine + Issue)
  • Hugo Category: (Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Related Work, Graphic Novel, etc)
  • link (if available to read/view online)
  • optional “Brief, spoiler-free description of story premise:”
  • optional “What I liked and didn’t like about it:”
  • (Please rot-13 any spoilers.)

There is a permalink to this thread in the blog header.

It’s A Wonder Filled Life: An Inspirational, Eighth Year Anniversary

Steve Vertlieb in 2010.

By Steve Vertlieb: It was eight years ago, on March 8, 2010, that I entered The University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia to undergo major open heart surgery. I had no expectation whatsoever of surviving the required surgery. I was told by my surgical cardiologist, Dr. Michael Acker, that I’d live only another several weeks without the operation. On the morning of the surgery, I turned affectionately to the apartment living room that I was leaving, along with its countless collectibles and, as the door closed behind me to the world that I had called home, I uttered an emotional farewell to everything that I loved.

They worked on me for five and a half hours as I lay on the surgical table. I had double bypass surgery, as well as Mitral Valve replacement. This photograph of me in my hospital room was taken just a couple of days after my operation. After nine days at The University of Pennsylvania Hospital, I returned home. A comforting, healthy recovery process was not in the cards, however.

As I lay in my own bed for the first time since the operation, I found myself gasping for breath. Terrified, I sat up quickly. Just nerves, I thought. After a moment, I laid down again. I couldn’t breathe. Anxious and afraid, I sat up in bed once more. It must be anxiety, I reasoned. I spent the rest of the day sitting on my couch, watching television with my brother. That night, as I prepared for bed, I laid my head down upon the pillow, and found myself gasping frantically for breath once more. Fearful for my mortality, I spent the remainder of the long night sitting up in bed, fighting sleep, afraid of lying down … and dying. I did this for the next four days until, yearning for sleep and frightened that this was truly the end, I told my brother “I’m dying…take me to the emergency room.”

Early on a Sunday morning, Erwin drove me to the emergency room at Holy Redeemer Hospital where I was immediately admitted. I had fluid filling my lungs, cardiac insufficiency or heart failure, and the beginnings of a blood clot in my leg. After four more interminable days in the second hospital, I was finally sent home. From that day to this, I have been fine.

In the years that followed my brush with death, I have embraced the beauty of life and of living ever more passionately, finding beauty, joy, and love in every imaginable nook and cranny of this, my mortal, all too precarious journey through existence…and yet, in the eight years since my near death encounter with the infinite, I’ve enjoyed some of the most precious, life affirming encounters of my fragile seventy two years. Months after I nearly died on the surgical table, I met my last life-long hero, composer John Williams, in his dressing room at The Hollywood Bowl … a local film maker announced his intention to make a documentary motion picture about my life and career … I was awarded a coveted Rondo “Hall Of Fame” Life Achievement Award for half a century of journalistic endeavor and achievement … and, most importantly, I met the woman that I love, Rochelle (Shelly) Trust. Despite brief appearances to the contrary and a singular flirtation with finality, I’ve discovered meaning, value, and beauty in the richness of living, and in the wonder and fullness of a life well lived. To quote George Bailey in Frank Capra’s inspirational film of the same name, it really has been “A Wonderful Life.”

SFF Exhibit Opens at Pasadena History Museum

By John King Tarpinian:

“Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction and Southern California” explores the history of science fiction in Southern California from the 1930s to the 1980s, and how it interacted with the advances of science, the changes in technology, and shifts in American society. Curated by Nick Smith, former president of Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, the exhibition brings together an unusual range of artifacts, fine and graphic arts, books, ephemera, and photographs.

Exhibit curator Nick Smith, left, views displays with Larry Niven, right.

Today (March 3) was the grand opening of this exhibition highlighting Science Fiction and Southern California’s relationship with same.  Some early rocket tests were just a few blocks away from this museum so the history goes back to the beginning of the rocket age and the inspirations for SF.

I am not sure which of the bazillion photos I sent Mike that he will have the time and bandwidth to display.

  • Of course, there was a display honoring Ray Bradbury, with the 3’ statue (sorry it was too dark) showing the reliefs inspired by his work.  Also a pair of Ray’s eyeglasses, preserved by the family and other items of interest.
  • A Kelly Freas sketch of J.R.R. Tolkien that, if I understand correctly, was done as a way of Freas’ introducing himself to Tolkein.

  • Costumes from Superman to Space Cadet.
  • Toys on display that many of us wish our mother did not throw away.

This is a brief highlight of the exhibition which runs through September.  There will be a few rotating displays during the run.   Highly recommended.

U.S. Black History Month

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1289) Lena Horne (1917-2010) was in the Cotton Club chorus line at sixteen; she replaced Dinah Shore (1916-1994) as the featured vocalist on NBC Radio’s Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street — which was jazz, and a spoof – and had made Shore’s career – but after six months was hired away for a club on Sunset Strip.  She sang the title song in Stormy Weather (A. Stine dir. 1943) in a role invented for her.  Back in nightclubs she sang at the Sands(Las Vegas), the Cocoanut Grove (L.A.), the Waldorf Astoria (New York); her 1957 live Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria was RCA Victor’s best-selling record by a woman artist up to that time (LOC 1028; now e.g. Hallmark B00DI4HSPK 2013); see its fine review in W. Friedwald, The Great Jazz & Pop Vocal Albums pp. 184-89 (2017).  During World War II she wouldn’t sing for segregated audiences, famously leaving a stage for the row where the black troops were.  She was in the 1963 March on Washington. Tom Lehrer put her in “National Brotherhood Week” (1965) – which, incidentally, it is, just now.  In 1980 she said she was retiring, then mounted a one-woman show The Lady and Her Music that ran three hundred performances on Broadway, toured the United States and Canada, played a month in London, and ended in Stockholm.  She won four Grammys (two for The Lady and Her Music, one for Lifetime Achievement), a Tony, and the Spingarn Medal. She was on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show; she was Glinda in The Wiz (S. Lumet dir. 1978) – in case you were waiting to hear what particular interest all this had for us.  She is on the 2018 U.S. Postal Service Black  Heritage stamp. In fact she never was retiring.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #24

File 770’s Black History Month, Part One: Black Panther

By Chris M. Barkley:

Black Panther (2018, ****) with Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. Written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, based on characters created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Directed by Ryan Coogler.

Bechdel Test: PASS!!!!!

Ever since Marvel Studios first announced in 2014 it was developing a film version of the iconic black superhero, Black Panther, a great deal of hype and anticipation has surrounded its production. And now, I can tell you, without any hesitation, that this film has exceeded all my expectations.

Set shortly after the assassination of the King T’Chaka of Wakanda in Captain America: Civil War, heir apparent Prince T’Challa (a magnificently ripped Chadwick Boseman) is to be crowned the new King. But although T’Challa has trained and studied for this moment for a majority of his life, he feels as though he is unready and can never be the equal of his father.

T’Challa has bigger problems; the path to the crown does not go unchallenged. M’Baku (Winston Duke), the powerful leader of the agrarian northern tribe tries to depose him, a master criminal, Ulyssess Klaue (Andy Serkis) is at large peddling vibranium, the precious metal that fuels Wakanda’s existence and is distracted by his ex-lover by his concern over the safety of (Lupita Nyong’o), who spends most of her time outside the kingdom as a secret service agent.

But the sudden emergence of Erik Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), a previously unknown heir to the throne suddenly appears to pose the biggest threat to T’Challa and his kingdom. A trained killer, he aids Klaue’s activities and seeks to take Wakandan weapons and technology to “liberate” the oppressed minorities of the world in order to dominate the world for himself.

The Black Panther debuted June 1966 in Fantastic Four # 52 and 53 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. It is only natural to expect Marvel Comics, the innovative group of creators that gave us angst driven teenage heroes (Spider-Man and the X-Men) heroes and villains with anger issues (The Hulk, Namor, the Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom) and physical disabilities (Daredevil) would bring the world the very first, true black superhero. I personally believe that they created the Black Panther out of their observations of the civil rights movement and seeing the potential of building bridges to the youthful African-American audience hungry for heroes they can identify with.

(In October of that year, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton created the influential revolutionary group, The Black Panthers for Self Defense as a reactionary counterpart of Martin Luther King’s non-violent movement. Neither man confirmed that the group was named after Marvel’s hero but just calling it merely a coincidence is a bit of stretch.)

I have had the privilege of watching the character of the Black Panther evolve over the decades to come to this particular moment in black cultural history.

There are several reasons why this particular film is important right now:

A) As the 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, writer-director Ryan Coogler has assembled of the largest and most diverse casts of black actors, both of American and international origins, in recent memory.

B) The story provides a different, but important slice of the Marvel Universe that many readers of comics were familiar with but most moviegoers were probably unaware of.

C) It also shows a fictionalized region of Africa that has never been colonized, despoiled or exploited by any outside forces, an idealized place where love of country goes hand in hand with advanced technology.

But beneath there are clearly cracks in Wakanda’s utopian vision here; much of the country’s internal success has come from a traditional intense sense of secrecy that does not allow any other points of view. When Erik “Killmonger” Stevens arrives to make his play for Wankandan crown, he finds a fertile ground to sow his nefarious plot. And what should be nagging in the back of every viewer’s mind is could there be a kernel of truth in what he’s seeking.

T’Challa may have a suit of vibranium and advanced weapons at his disposal but he knows he cannot prevail on his own. He is blessed with some serious backup; covert operator Nakia, the fearsome Okoye (Danai Gurira), the head of his all female special forces unit, his beloved mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), a frenemy CIA agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and his spunky and techno-genius sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) who steals practically every scene she’s in.

Ryan Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole deserve an enormous amount of credit in balancing everyone’s role so the movie feels like a beautifully infectious fever dream of action, adventure and personal tragedy.

The advanced ticket sales of Black Panther have ensured its financial success, both here in America and overseas. But its cultural impact can only be measured by the number of new projects featuring racially and sexually diverse cast will made in the near future. I, along with you and many others, can only watch and wait.

ONWARD, WAKANDA!

Philadelphia Eagles Win the Super Bowl

[Frequent contributor Steve Vertlieb accidentally watched the Super Bowl and ended up sharing his hometown’s triumphant moment.]

By Steve Vertlieb: In case you were living under a rock in Ecuador and hadn’t heard, The Philadelphia Eagles won The Super Bowl Sunday night. Now, to anyone who knows me, the news that I am not a sports fan shouldn’t come as a complete or utter shock. Since 1950 when I was four years old, and my dad brought home our first television set, my heart and soul have been both passionately and singularly devoted to movies and to music.

My childhood was spent largely in a rapturous fantasy world inhabited by Ray Harryhausen’s dinosaurs, cyclopian monsters, forbidden planets, and the arts. When I was forced to venture out into a largely hostile, abusive environment in which both my brother and I were subjected to years of physical torment and psychological abuse by bullies and jocks, we learned to loathe and despise the predatory predilections of the anger ridden classmates who delighted in torturing and tormenting us. Now, it may not surprise anyone to learn that I am a fully accredited “nerd.” Just ask my girlfriend. I was, perhaps, the least athletically inclined or physically proficient lad in either junior high or high school.

Consequently, a substantial portion of my adolescence was spent couched in child psychiatrist’s offices, combating severe depression and suicidal yearnings. Suffice to say that I matured with a self-protective loathing for, and suspicion of, sports and the sadistic neighbors and classmates who worshipped them. At seventy-two years of age, I had never watched a football game, nor had I the slightest interest in doing so.

That was, until Sunday night. A friend asked me Sunday morning if I was going to watch The Super Bowl, and I rather cooly answered “No.” As six o’clock Sunday evening crept into my consciousness, I turned my television dial to our local NBC affiliate…more out of curiosity than for any other logical reason. After all, my home team had progressed beyond anyone’s reasonable expectations into Super Bowl contention, and was set to play against one of the NFL’s strongest competitors, the New England Patriots headed by Tom Brady. My home town’s hopes, dreams, and collective hearts were poised to be broken and shattered by reality on this cold, Winter’s Sunday evening.

I guess that I’ve always been prone to favor underdogs, and losers…as much of my early years were spent in the shadows of happiness and achievement, watching winners soar beyond my solitary comprehension and perceived existence…and so, to my utter astonishment, I found myself fascinated by the live spectacle about to unfold in Minnesota, at last unwilling to change the channel, or spend my evening on anything boring or ultimately mundane. I was hypnotized by the drama and courageous reality of this David and Goliath confrontation, and after a lifetime of angered resistance, succumbed at last to the nearly spiritual combat unfurling before my eyes.

I silently cheered every win and touchdown, while wincing in often painful resignation at our home team’s setbacks and losses. Then, at the last agonizing moment as Tom Brady stumbled, and The Philadelphia Eagles soared into football history and legend, I heard myself screaming “Oh, My God…Oh, My God…We Won…We Won.” My eyes filled with tears, and I began to cry from happiness. I had finally let go of crippling bigotry and hatred, embracing the beauty and wonder of spiritual ascension and human achievement. Losers had at last overcome their collective demons, and become winners, rising to stardom against all odds and negative predictions of failure. I had become a believer. The Philadelphia Eagles had joyously claimed what was rightfully theirs all along…the honor, dignity, and justifiable pride inherent in working toward their goal, and rising like a phoenix from the ashes of despair to the exultation and glory of sublime victory and achievement. If they could succeed, then so might we all. “Fly, Eagles, Fly,” and may we all continue to soar upon the glorious, ethereal wings of eagles.

Antonelli’s Apology Accepted By Foz Meadows and Camestros Felapton

Lou Antonelli has tweeted apologies to the victims of his false claims that blogger Camestros Felapton is a pseudonym for Foz Meadows’ husband, Toby.

Camestros Felapton accepted the apology: “A Gracious Note From Lou Antonelli”.

Lou Antonelli has sent me a polite apology via Twitter regarding his claims that I was Toby Meadows. I’d like to thank him for that.

I’ve disabled comments on this post because I’d prefer to move on from this now. I will say that I don’t regard myself as particularly the injured party in this. The Meadows family have had to put up with a lot of maliciousness from several parties.

Over the past ten days Camestros Felapton has written many posts about this kerfuffle. “Was Antonelli Set Up?” (January 26) is as good as any for learning the details if you don’t already know them.

Foz Meadows also accepted Antonelli’s apology in this exchange:

The impetus for the charge may have come from Facebook conversations that I cannot access, therefore I cannot document who originated it. But on January 21, Brad Torgersen used the charge as the basis for a malicious attack on Camestros at Mad Genius Club, “Camestros Felapton is Toby Meadows, spouse of Foz Meadows” [Internet Archive page]. Foz Meadows, after she and her husband dealt with the resulting abuse for several days, on January 29 posted “A Personal Note” about the falsehood of the claim and the emotional pain that it caused.

[Thanks to JJ, Daniel Dern, and Camestros Felapton for the story.]

Remembering Oscar-Winning Composer Miklos Rozsa

By Steve Vertlieb: Miklos Rozsa remains among the most revered composers in film history. The three-time Oscar winner for Best Original Score For A Motion Picture was a pioneering musician who, along with Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, Max Steiner, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Franz Waxman, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Victor Young brought dramatic, melodic musical form and structure to the sound of film, thereby forever altering the way we listen to movies. Elmer Bernstein considered both Miklos Rozsa and Bernard Herrmann the finest practitioners of the developing art form of Music For The Movies in the remarkable history of the medium.

In a career that comprised some forty-five years of scoring and achievement, Miklos Rozsa created lush, romantic scoring for such beloved fantasy films as Alexander Korda’s The Thief of Bagdad, and the tale of a young Wolf Boy named Mowgli for The Jungle Book. He became the defining voice of classic Film Noir with such scores as Double Indemnity, Brute Force, The Killers, The Naked City, and The Lost Weekend for director Billy Wilder and, as the 1950s approached, virtually invented the epic motion picture score for such films as Quo Vadis, Ivanhoe, Knights of the Round Table, Ben Hur, King of Kings, and El Cid. He was a musical chameleon who reinvented both himself and the remarkably diverse genres for which he composed Time After Time. Here, then, is this published career retrospective and tribute to a consummate artist whose Lust For Life elevated the craft and power of Cinema to sublime ascension.

In sweet, joyous celebration of a cherished relationship with one of the most remarkable musicians and artists of the twentieth century, here is a loving remembrance of my twenty-seven-year friendship with three-time Oscar-winning composer Miklos Rozsa, as well as an affectionate recollection of coming of cinematic age and maturity during the comparative innocence of the nineteen fifties. Miklos Rozsa remains one of the most revered and legendary motion picture composers in screen history, and it was my sublime honor and privilege to know him for nearly three decades. Born April 18th, 1907, we remember and commemorate the monumental influence of this superlative artist and man.

 

Humphrey Bogart uttered one of the most famous lines in movie history when he held The Maltese Falcon in his hands and mused wistfully … “The stuff that dreams are…”

In 2007 I was asked by the folks who ran the venerable Castro Theater in San Francisco to put together a Miklos Rozsa film festival for their historic venue. I chose seventeen films to reflect a variety of moods expressed on screen by the wondrously gifted composer. The film festival ran for nine days toward the end of December, 2007, and into January, 2008. I wrote the notes for the official program handed out for the once in a lifetime event, and hosted a thirty-minute interview “live” on stage with Juliet Rozsa, daughter of this illustrious composer, before a paying crowd of some seven hundred movie goers prior to a presentation of the composer’s masterpiece, Ben-Hur, on the giant Castro screen. Proclamations, tributes, and testimonials were written for the occasion by the Hungarian Ambassador To The United States, The Honorable Mayor of San Francisco, and legendary writer Ray Bradbury.

Here is a first person report by Michael Guillen, an independent film journalist sitting among the capacity crowd during that memorable evening: The Evening Class: MIKLÓS RÓZSA—An Onstage Tribute.

Vertlieb read Bradbury’s tribute to the Castro audience and the Rózsa family members on stage: “In all my life I’ve never had a more complete relationship with a composer than with Miklós Rózsa. When MGM asked me to write the narration for King of Kings, I immediately joined a partnership with Margaret Booth, the film editor, and we became fast friends. The most wonderful moment in my life was when I went on the sound stage to watch Miklós Rózsa conduct the score for King of Kings and then heard my own voice booming out over the orchestra and dear Miklós’ head as I spoke the narration. I wish that I had a recording today of my voice with his music because it became a partnership and a great friendship for life. To everyone hearing his wonderful music this week, I send my love and regard to the memory of Miklós Rózsa.”

++ Steve Vertlieb, 2018