Video of Bradbury Library Dedication

Better late than never! After the Palms-Rancho Park Branch Library in Los Angeles was dedicated to Ray Bradbury on September 23, 2013, Steven Leiva, Harlan Ellison and George Clayton Johnson convened upstairs in the Ray Bradbury Room to talk about their mutual friend. Video of the panel shot by John Sasser has now been posted on YouTube.

A Bradbury Birthday Reminiscence

451 Leiva Poster SMALLEnjoy a birthday cake for Ray Bradbury, a screening of François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451, and talk by Steven Paul Leiva, author of Searching For Ray Bradbury, at the Glendale Central Library on August 22. Had he lived, that would have been Ray’s 93rd birthday.

After the movie, Leiva will discuss Bradbury’s life and work. He’ll also sign. Leiva, whose book contains a series of essays about the late Bradbury, led a successful effort to name the major downtown Los Angeles intersection of Fifth and Flower Ray Bradbury Square.

The event begins at 7:00 pm.

The library is currently displaying a case of Bradbury memorabilia. John King Tarpinian did a walkaround so you can see the exhibit from all four sides.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Bradbury’s Favorite Bookshop

Steven Paul Leiva, who organized the incredible Ray Bradbury Week in Los Angeles in 2010, and helped persuade the Los Angeles City Council to name a downtown intersection by the Central Library “Ray Bradbury Square,” has written Searching for Ray Bradbury, a short collection of his essays about his friend and colleague.

One of these pieces, Leiva’s “Ray Bradbury’s Favorite Bookshop”, was recently published on The Huffington Post:

When a great American author recommends a bookstore to you, you would be well-advised to listen. When he does it with enthusiasm and passion, which was the only way Ray Bradbury ever did anything, you would be well-advised not just to listen, but to take note — in indelible ink on acid free paper, on any recording device you have handy, and by any method of mnemonics you practice.

“Steve, you and Amanda must come to my book signing next Wednesday. But not just for me, it’s at one of the best bookstores ever, Mystery & Imagination in Glendale, great name, huh? It’s from Poe!”

Bradbury regularly appeared at Mystery & Imagination Bookstore for signings, and fans thronged to his annual birthday celebrations there.

Naturally, Mystery & Imagination hosted the launch party for Leiva’s own collection this past May 26.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]
Ray Bradbury's 89th birthday party

Crowd at bookstore

Crowd at Mystery & Imagination Bookstore for Ray Bradbury’s 88th Birthday in 2008.

Bo Derek wishes Ray Bradbury a happy 90th birthday in 2009.

Bo Derek wishes Ray Bradbury a happy 90th birthday in 2009.

Pete Atkins and Dennis Etchison outside Mystery & Imagination Bookstore

Pete Atkins and Dennis Etchison outside Mystery & Imagination Bookstore

Council Approves Bradbury Square

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on September 18 to designate the intersection of Fifth and Flower, near the Central Library, as Ray Bradbury Square.

Here are Steven Paul Leiva’s remarks:

Good Morning.

Two years ago this council did something rather extraordinary. In order to mark the 90th birthday of literary legend Ray Bradbury, this council declared not just a day in his honor, which is pretty typical of what city councils do, but a week. As the creator of Ray Bradbury Week, I was incredibly grateful to you. For your blessing allowed me to organize a series of events throughout that week of August 22nd to 28th, all of which were free to the public, that celebrated Ray’s life and work. And Ray was able to attend three of those events. Sadly, they were his last public appearances. But what wonderful events they were. Not only for the public, but for Ray, who — if he ever had any doubts — learned that week how much the reading public, his fans, but, most importantly, this city, loved and revered him.

The one thing I wanted to accomplish that week that just couldn’t get done, was to have some great location in this city named after Ray. But I never gave up on the idea. For over a year now, I’ve worked with Councilmember Koretz and his staff, who brought in Councilmember Huizar and his staff, and because of their dedication to this idea and their hard work, we have come to this day.

Now, I know Paul Koretz would have loved to have been here today, but he is observing Rosh Hashanah. He is missed.

Councilmembers, it is absolutely appropriate to name the intersection of Fifth and Flower RAY BRADBURY SQUARE not only because it sits right next to our city’s Central Library, and Ray was libraries greatest champion, but because it is downtown, an area of this city that Ray one lived in, wrote about, and loved.

But it is also appropriate for an intersection to be named after Ray, for, as a writer he worked at the intersection of genre fiction and literary fiction; as a man he lived the intersection of being a public artist people loved so much they wanted him in their families, and being a private man with a wonderful wife and four loving daughters for whom he was husband and Dad; and as an internationally renowned author he stood at the intersection of being a citizen of the world — and a citizen of this municipality, a proud Angeleno who loved this city passionately.

So I thank you for considering to once again pay Ray Bradbury a great honor, and I urge a YES vote on the motion before you.

Thank you.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Update 09/25/2012: Susan Bradbury Nixon, Ray’s daughter, was permitted to address the Council meeting and her remarks appear in Steven Paul Leiva’s comment below. 

Planetfest in LA

There are 8 must-see things at Planetfest 2012, writes Steven Paul Leiva on the KCET website, not the least being a presentation by the CEO of the Planetary Society, William Sanford Nye – known by most of us as Bill Nye the Science Guy..

The Planetary Society is the world’s largest space advocacy group and their annual event, taking place August 4 and 5 in the Pasadena (CA) Convention Center, is likely to coincide with the arrival on Mars of the rover Curiosity (viewable online via JPL/NASA).

Saturday’s highlights are David Brin’s talk about the outburst of space exploration activity, a tribute to the late Sally Ride, and a panel on space art with Don Davis, Rick Sternbach, Aldo Spadoni, Jon Ramer, and Robert Kline.

On Sunday George Whitesides of Virgin Galactic and David Giger of SpaceX will comment on the future as shaped by commercial space companies, followed later by a Bradbury tribute, a presentation by space journalist Andrew Chaikin, and items by Planetary Society experts leading into coverage of Curiosity’s landing.

See the Planetfest 2012 website for ticket information.

2012 Oscar Nominees

The 2012 Academy Award nominations show there are still some sf/fantasy stars in the cinema firmament, even if they are not in the prestigious Best Picture or acting categories. (Unless we appropriate Hugo, the 3-D movie about the man who invented special effects — I haven’t seen it, you tell me.)

The genre dominates the Visual Effects category, as is often the case:

Visual Effects
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Real Steel
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Unlike last year, when the Short Film (Animated) category was highlighted by the work of recent Worldcon GoH Shaun Tan, there is no comparable standout in 2012, although a couple of these might be claimed as examples of sf/fantasy (links have been added to the trailers I viewed while drafting this post):

Short Film (Animated)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

In the Animated Feature Film category, the story of greatest interest to me is about the contender not nominated.

Having reported Steven Paul Leiva’s argument against allowing The Adventures of Tintin as an Oscar contender in the animation category, I was interested to find Spielberg’s movie did, indeed, fail to make the cut. Even after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had announced in July 2010 that “motion-capture films are no longer considered eligible for the Best Animated Feature Film category,” Paramount had continued to urge on voters the view that Tintin isn’t a just a performance capture film. Academy voters evidently felt differently.

Animated Feature Film
A Cat in Paris, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
Chico & Rita, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Puss in Boots,” Chris Miller
Rango, Gore Verbinski

About the animated films that are up for an Oscar the NY Times observed:

The animation voters this year skewed European and hand-drawn, choosing “”A Cat in Paris,” a French film, and “Chico & Rita,” made by a Spanish director and designers, over more high-profile, high-tech hopefuls like “The Adventures of Tintin,” “Arthur Christmas” and Pixar’s “Cars 2.” (It is only the third time since Pixar was founded a decade ago that its name did not pop up in the best animated feature selections, though it did garner a nod for its short, “La Luna.”)

True Animation

Steven Spielberg wants his forthcoming movie The Adventures of Tintin, made with performance capture technology, to compete in the Academy Awards’ animated film category. Steven Paul Leiva argues that it is ineligible in his essay for the Los Angeles Times.

Leiva, last mentioned here as organizer of Los Angeles’ official celebration of Ray Bradbury’s 90th birthday, has worked over 20 years in the animation field, as director of animation development for producer Gary Kurtz, president of Chuck Jones Productions and a producer on Space Jam.

Motion/performance capture typically samples the movements of one or more actors many times per second. Then this animation data is mapped to a 3D model so that the model performs the same actions as the actor. Leiva says this process is alien from the true animation that the Oscar category is intended to honor:

In true animation, whether it be the vaudeville fables of the Looney Tunes, the fairy-tale romances of Disney or the deeply human performances in Pixar’s “The Incredibles” and “Up” life is created literally from scratch — the scratch of a pencil on paper — and should not be confused with the embellished documentation of life preexisting.

To include a performance capture film in the category of best animated picture would be a mistake; for it to be nominated and win would be a travesty.

So far so good. Why does Leiva still need to address this controversy, when Digital Acting reported in July 2010 that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had announced that “motion-capture films are no longer considered eligible for the Best Animated Feature Film category”? Because a Paramount spokeswoman is still making Spielberg’s argument that Tintin isn’t a just a performance capture film, says the Kansas City Star:

“Tintin” relies on motion-capture performances for most of its major characters, including Tintin (played by Jamie Bell), a pirate (Daniel Craig) and a pair of bumbling detectives (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost). But animators are working with those performances — Pegg and Frost, for instance, who are physical opposites in real life, play twins.

And Bill Kroyer, a governor of the academy’s short films and animation branch, told a Star reporter:

“If it was intended to simply be a copy of a live actor’s work, then we would not consider it animation,” Kroyer said. “At the moment, we have not determined a way to make that decision. It lies with the intention of the director.”

So the controversy lives on.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]