“Oh, Captain, My Captain”

Steve Vertlieb, William Shatner, and Erwin Vertlieb in 1969.

By Steve Vertlieb: I interviewed William Shatner for British magazine L’Incroyable Cinema in the Summer of 1969 at The Playhouse In The Park whilst Star Trek was still in the final days of its original network run on NBC. My old friend Allan Asherman, who joined Erwin and I for this once-in-a-lifetime meeting with Captain James Tiberius Kirk, astutely commented that I had now met all three of our legendary boyhood “Captains,” which included Jim Kirk (Bill Shatner), Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers (Larry “Buster” Crabbe), and Buzz Corry, commander of the Space Patrol (Ed Kemmer). It’s funny how an often-charmed life can include real life friendships with childhood heroes.

Steve Vertlieb and Buster Crabbe in 1979.

Boyhood hero Buster Crabbe was the special guest at a local Philadelphia nostalgia convention during the Spring of 1979, and took the trouble to search for me in the telephone directory. He telephoned my parents’ home and spoke with my father, asking him if he knew Steve Vertlieb. My dad said that he did, indeed, know me as I was his son. Buster said that he was in town for a few days, and asked my dad to have me call him so that we might meet for dinner. It took my father some thirty minutes to convince me that Buster had really called. I called him back at his hotel, and we dined the next evening at a restaurant in Philadelphia’s Chinatown where he playfully dumped some of his dinner into my own plate, and urged me to “Eat, Eat, Eat.”

Ed Kemmer and Steve Vertlieb.

Together with one of my earliest boyhood heroes and role models, Ed Kemmer, who starred as Commander Buzz Corry of the Space Patrol, broadcast every Saturday morning on ABC Television and radio in the early-to-mid 1950’s. After this initial meeting, Ed and I remained friends through correspondence until his passing. Ed was a great guy. It was a thrill to meet him finally after some fifty years, and to develop a friendship with him in the years before he passed.

Oh Captain, My Captain – Jim Kirk, Flash Gordon, Buzz Corey

By Steve Vertlieb: William Shatner, the iconic actor who first sailed the Star Ship Enterprise through three intergalactic seasons on NBC Television beginning September 8th, 1966, and starred in six Star Trek feature-length motion pictures, turned eighty-six years young recently. He was the valiant inspiration for millions of young boys and men for decades of thrilling cinematic heroism. I conducted, perhaps, the very first “fan” interview with William Shatner ever published during July, 1969, whilst the series was still being aired over NBC in its final re-runs, for the British magazine, L’Incroyable Cinema. He was both delightfully witty, and warm, sharing a memorable hour of his valuable time with us. Here are Erwin and I together with Captain James Tiberius Kirk outside his dressing room at The Playhouse In The Park where he was starring in a local Philadelphia Summer Stock production of “There’s A Girl In My Soup,” with Exodus star Jill Hayworth.

Together with boyhood hero and cherished friend, Buster Crabbe, here in Philadelphia in 1979. On this particular occasion, Buster and I had dinner together in “Chinatown.” Although Jack Nicholson was nowhere to be found, Buster playfully emptied the remains of some his dinner into my plate, insisting that I “Eat, Eat, Eat.” My Jewish mother would have been proud. Buster, along with Ed Kemmer and William Boyd, was among my earliest childhood heroes. Buster and I were good friends over the last two decades of his life, and I remain honored to think of myself as one of Flash Gordon’s pals. Knowing him personally was a thrill beyond imagining. My affectionate remembrance of Larry “Buster” Crabbe, and “Fantastic” children’s television during the 1950’s, has been nominated as “Best Blog of the Year” under the heading of Better Days, Benner Nights in the annual Rondo Awards.

Steve Vertlieb and Buster Crabbe.

Together with one of my earliest boyhood heroes and role models, Ed Kemmer, who starred as Commander Buzz Corey of the “Space Patrol”, broadcast every Saturday morning on ABC Television in the mid 1950’s. He also co-starred with William Shatner in “Nightmare At 20,000 Feet,” the original classic episode of The Twilight Zone written by Richard Matheson. Shatner’s own Star Trek series was heavily influenced by Ed’s Space Patrol, as well as MGM’s Forbidden Planet. After this initial meeting, Ed and I remained friends through correspondence until his passing. He loved Sinatra, and so I’d periodically record tapes of Francis Albert for him, and send them to his apartment in New York. Ed remained conspicuously among the few stars refusing to accept compensation for posing for pictures or signing autographs. He felt that charging money for his image would be a betrayal of the millions of children who made him so popular during the nineteen fifties. He was not only a tv hero, but a real hero, as well. During the second world war, Ed was a pilot who had been shot down behind enemy lines and imprisoned as a POW. He was quite a remarkable human being, both on screen and off.

Steve Vertlieb with Ed Kemmer, who played Cmdr. Buzz Corey in Space Patrol.

Pixel Scroll 6/6/16 You Don’t Send Me Pixels Anymore

(1) MIDWIVES OF THE CURSED CHILD. In “Why J.K. Rowling Endorsed ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ for the Stage” the New York Times presents edited excerpts from a conversation between Colin Callender and Sonia Friedman, producers; Jack Thorne, the playwright; John Tiffany, director; Jamie Parker, who plays Harry; and Noma Dumezweni, who plays Hermione – in which they spoke “about everything but the plot.”

You both share story credit with J. K. Rowling. How did it work having three writers in the mix?

John Tiffany Jo Rowling was incredibly generous. I met her first, and I already had a soft spot for her because she used to write in the cafe of the Traverse Theater in Edinburgh when I was the director. It was only after the first book came out that I realized it had been her, nursing one cappuccino for four hours. When we met to talk about the play, she asked, “What do you think the Harry Potter stories are about?” I said, “Learning to deal with death and grief.” There was something in her eye — I thought, we didn’t say it’s about transformation or magic or flying on brooms, and we’re on the right track.

Thorne We all met in Edinburgh and as the day developed, we knew we would take the epilogue of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” as a starting point.

Tiffany All the seeds are there; we start with that scene in the train station. Am I allowed to say that? Anyway, it was clear that she was going to let us take those characters and have our own ideas.

Callender Of course, Jack came to the table with an encyclopedic knowledge of Harry, so that helped.

Thorne All right, I’m a nerd. With abandonment issues.

(2) YOUR NAME HERE. Cat Rambo tells how to win a Tuckerization in one of her stories.

This month my newsletter subscribers and Patreon supporters have a chance to win a Tuckerization in one of my stories. It’s not too late to get next week’s newsletter with details about how you can enter.

If you haven’t heard of a Tuckerization, that means you supply the name of one of the characters for a story – you may want to name them after yourself, a friend, or someone else you want to pay tribute to. I will offer you your choice of three possible genres, and do reserve the right to reject names that will not work with the story. In such cases I will work with you to find an acceptable name.

(3) SARKEESIAN. “Lingerie Is Not Armor” on Feminist Frequency, a video series is created by Anita Sarkeesian.

The Tropes vs Women in Video Games project aims to examine the plot devices and patterns most often associated with female characters in gaming from a systemic, big picture perspective. This series will include critical analysis of many beloved games and characters, but remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it’s more problematic or pernicious aspects.

Click here for the full transcript, links and resources for the episode.

(4) BEWARE SPOILERS. The latest installment of Slate’s series about the nastiest folk in Game of Thrones “This Week’s Worst Person in Westeros: The High Sparrow”.

After each episode in Game of Thrones Season 6, we’ll be answering a crucial question: Who is currently the worst person in Westeros? This week, technology and culture writer Jacob Brogan is joined by Slate pop critic Jack Hamilton.

Brogan: Hi, Jack. Thanks for joining me to talk about “The Broken Man.” Last week, Dan Kois and I declared the waif the worst, with Dan going so far as to claim that she is, in fact, the worst person “in all episodes in which she appears.” While that’s a bold statement on a show that includes the (still mercifully absent) Ramsay Bolton, this episode went a long way toward proving Dan right. She shows up briefly, using mere seconds of screen time to repeatedly stab Arya in the stomach. While I have little doubt that the girl-formerly-known-as-the-girl-with-no-name will survive, I’m mostly looking forward to her doing a little stabbing of her own at this point.

(5) WORLDBUILDERS. The charitable fundraiser Geeks Doing Good 2016 is in full swing.

GDG-2016_mik3tc

Worldbuilders was founded in 2008 by New York Times bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss to bring the geek community together to make the world a better place. We work hard to raise money for reputable charities while giving back to the community who supports us with things like giveaways, auctions, and our online store.

To date, Worldbuilders has raised just shy of $5 million for charities like First Book, Mercy Corps, and Heifer International, and this year, we’re continuing  to expand our fundraising efforts.

In addition to our annual end-of-the-year fundraiser, we have another tradition: the week-long Geeks Doing Good summer campaign. This is different from our usual lottery and auction set up, where you might win fabulous prizes, or you pay top-dollar at auction for something rare or limited. Instead, for this summer fundraiser, we’ve taken the chance out of it.

When you donate during this Geeks Doing Good campaign, you are guaranteed to get the advertised reward. They’re affordable, they’re cool, and there’s no guesswork. You pledge at the soap level, you will get a bar of beautiful, handmade soap. Wha-BOOM! Hit in the face with Awesome!

 

(6) SHE REALLY DUG DINOSAURS. “Unearthing History: Mary Anning’s Hunt for Prehistoric Ocean Giants” from the Smithsonian Libraries Unbound blog.

You may not have realized it, but you’ve been acquainted with Mary Anning since you were young. “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.” Remember this grade school tongue-twister? What you probably didn’t know is that this nursery rhyme is based on a real person who not only sold seaside curiosities by the seashore, but became world renowned for her fossil discoveries.

(7) LEGACY. Steve Vertlieb invites people to enjoy his post “Careening Spaceships & Thundering Hooves’ … Children’s Television in the 1950s & The Legacy of Buster Crabbe”: “Here’s my affectionate remembrance of children’s television during the comparative innocence of the 1950’s, the early days of televised science fiction and cowboys upon a deeply impressionable young boy, and the towering influence of Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Captain Gallant Of The Foreign Legion, all of whom both looked and sounded like the personification of celluloid heroism…Larry ‘Buster’ Crabbe.”

When I was a little kid, prior to the Civil War, I had an imagination as fertile and as wide as my large brown eyes, dreamily filled with awe and wonder.  My dad brought home our first television set in 1950.  It was an old RCA Victor TV with a screen not much bigger than my youthful head, but I was glued to its black and white imagery like flies on butter.  I was but four years old. In those early days of television, programming didn’t even begin until late afternoon or the dinner hour, but I would sit in front of the little brown box staring longingly at the Indian head portrait frozen in Cathode promise.

(8) QUINNFUNDING. Jameson Quinn’s YouCaring appeal to fund his trip to MidAmerCon II has raised $580 of its $1400 goal at this writing.

For the past two years, a minority of slate nominators have managed to pick a majority of the Hugo finalists. Last year, I helped propose an improvement to the voting system, E Pluribus Hugo (EPH). I raised funds to attend Sasquan, and I was there to help explain the proposal, which passed the Business Meeting by a 3:1 margin after extensive debate; if we ratify it this year, we can start using it next year.

This year, my coauthor Bruce Schneier and I were given access to last year’s nomination data in order to see how EPH would have worked. We found that it would have helped significantly, ensuring that at least one nominee in each category was slate-free. But we also found that there would still have been several categories without a choice between two or more slate-free nominees.

There are several ways we could deal with this. We could use just EPH, and live with the possibility of only one slate-free nominee per category; we could strengthen slightly it using a proposal called EPH+, which would tend to raise that number to two; we could pass a proposal called 3SV, to allow voters to disqualify disruptive slate nominees before they become finalists; and there are other, related, proposals that have been floated. I believe that there will be at least two new proposals on the table this year, and I think that, as with last year, my voting systems expertise could be valuable in helping the Business Meeting understand the implications of these options and decide what to do.

So, again, I’m raising funds to go to Worldcon this year (MAC II). I’m also hoping to raise extra money for The Center for Election Science, an incorporated charitable organization which supports reforming election systems more generally. (I’m a board member for the CES, and of course I feel that we do good, important work.)

(9) ART SHOW There’s been some discussion of Arisia 2017’s art show space and pricing policies.

Applications for space in the 2017 art show are now open.

New for Arisia 2017, we will be allocating space by lottery. More information is available on the reservations page.

Unlike most other science fiction convention art shows, sales at Arisia 2017 will be at fixed price only.

Since I don’t know the answer I thought I’d throw open the question – are these policies unusual, or increasingly common?

(10) TENTACLE TIME. Gamespot’s introduction to a new Independence Day TV commercial points out a fresh alien image:

It might have taken twenty years, but the sequel to ’90s blockbuster Independence Day finally hits cinemas in a few weeks. Independence Day: Resurgence sees the human race once again forced to defend itself against extra-terrestrial invaders, and the latest TV spot provides a first look at the aliens’ queen.

 

(11) TART SENTIMENTS. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dead Horses is keeping an eye on Indiana Jim.

(12) THE LUCHA LIBRE APPROACH TO SCHOLARSHIP. “Mexican ‘Spider-Man’ weaves web of knowledge for science students” – Reuters has the story.

A Mexican science teacher has come up with a novel way to get his students’ attention – giving lessons dressed as Spider-Man.

Moises Vazquez, 26, said he was inspired to pull on the tight blue and red suit of the superhero after reading in comics that the Marvel character behind the mask, Peter Parker, worked as a science teacher after his time as a freelance photographer.

“I do the same job as anyone else, I don’t think it’s the best class in the world just because I put on a suit. But I assure you I want to be the most honest and dedicated there is, I just want to make the classroom a better place,” he said…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Dave Doering, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John M. Cowan.]

Flash Gordon’s Favorite Airline

By James H. Burns: If you’re the right age, there’s something absolutely magical about seeing Buster Crabbe in this airline commercial featuring FLASH GORDON, from somewhere between 1973 ~1975. This was clearly meant as a national spot, but no one I know ever saw it! It’s also amazing to realize that Crabbe is wearing the costume from the Captain Marvel serial!  

Buster Crabbe also appeared in a spot endorsing Rainier Beer – “Fresh Gordon” in 1978.