Snapshots 127 Graf Zeppelin

Here are 13 developments of interest to fans plus one horrible pun.

(1) Charles Pierce discovered while visiting his mother’s hometown in Ireland there’s one truth about writers everyone knows:

John Brendan Keane was a poet, a novelist, a playwright, an essayist, and a pubkeeper. (One of his plays, The Field, was made into a movie that got Richard Harris an Academy Award nomination.) He spent his entire life in Listowel, and he died there in 2002. Half the county turned out for the funeral. The first time I ever went to Listowel, I sat at the bar and ordered a pint from Mr. Keane. He asked me what I did for a living. He then pulled me another pint free of charge. “Take this,” he said. “You’re a writer. You have no money.”

(2) And not only writers — comic book collectors need charity, too. Detcon 1 guest of honor Kevin J. Maroney explains in a Yahoo Finance story why the comics market is in a tailspin.

He’s not the only would-be investor who’s discovered in recent years that his comic collection isn’t worth nearly as much as he’d hoped. Kevin J. Maroney, 47, of Yonkers, N.Y., decided to sell 10,000 comics, roughly a third of his collection, on consignment with various comic book stores in Manhattan. Thus far, fewer than 300 have sold for a total of about $800. He’s not surprised by the lack of interest. “A lot of people my age, who grew up collecting comics, are trying to sell their collections now,” says Maroney, who works in IT support for Piper Jaffray. “But there just aren’t any buyers anymore.”

(3) On Veterans’ Day I learned from Neatorama that Alec Guinness commanded a landing craft in WWII:

Alec Guinness (1914-2000) played Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. During World War II, he was an officer in the Royal Navy Reserve. He was trained on the HMS Raleigh, a “stone frigate” or naval base in 1941, and then at a similar establishment in Hampshire, before completing his training on Loch Fyne. After getting practical experience on the HMS Quebec, Guinness sailed to Boston in January 1943 to pick up his first command, a landing craft designated LCI(L) #124. He took his ship through strafing runs by German aircraft to North Africa, where he prepared for the Allied invasion of Sicily. On 9 July, he landed 200 men on Cape Passero. Due to a communications breakdown, he did not receive a message that the landings had been delayed an hour, and consequently, his ship arrived at the Sicilian beach alone. Further miscommunication led a Royal Navy commander on the scene to accuse Sub-Lt. Guinness of not being early, but being late, and insinuated that the young officer’s acting career had not adequately prepared him for his military duties. Guinness responded:

And you will allow me to point out, sir, as an actor, that in the West End of London, if the curtain is advertised as going up at 8:00 PM, it goes up at 8:00 PM, and not an hour later, something that the Royal Navy might learn from.

(4) Meanwhile, the fake zombie wars of The Walking Dead have inspired Grantland’s Andy Greenwald to suggest an improvement on the season’s story arc

I think that the current season of The Walking Dead should have made itself into a sitcom (like Hogan’s Heroes) about life on a human against zombie internment camp. Thoughts?

(5) Coincidentally, Veteran’s Day (November 11) was also the date of the dedication ceremony for Professor Norm Hollyn’s endowed chair.

Film Editor Michael Kahn first worked with Steven Spielberg on 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In the years since then they have collaborated on most of the director’s films including Schindler’s List (1993), Saving Private Ryan (1998), for which they both won Oscars, and last year’s Lincoln. On Monday November 11th, the Director honored their 37-year relationship by dedicating the Michael Kahn Endowed Chair in Editing at the School of Cinematic Arts.

(6) “I ran across a new sort of breakfast in the supermarket today,” reports Sam Long, “Erewhon brand gluten-free cereals of several sorts, distributed by Erewhon Markets. This company sells many sorts of natural/health foods of many sorts, including free-range turkey for the holidays.  Angelenos are probably aware of this company, but I’ve never run across them before.

“I wonder what Samuel Butler, the English author whose best known work is his utopian novel titled Erewhon (‘Nowhere’ backwards and slightly modified) would think of that.”

The Serutan advertising campaign convinced my parent’s generation that things spelled backwards are healthy. I leave identifying the connection as an exercise for the reader…

(7) Did you know that in the 1920s the government built a series of giant concrete arrows pointing the way for mail delivery planes, with searchlight installations to illuminate them at night? A few still exist.

In 1924, the federal government funded enormous concrete arrows to be built every 10 miles or so along established airmail routes to help the pilots trace their way across America in bad weather conditions and particularly at night, which was a more efficient time to fly.

Painted in bright yellow, they were each built alongside a 50 foot tall tower with a rotating gas-powered light and a little rest house for the folks that maintained the generators and lights. These airway beacons are said to have been visible from a distance of 10 miles high.

(8) When Roger Ebert interviewed L. Q. Jones about a Boy And His Dog in 1976, the filmmaker gave more credit to the dog than to Harlan Ellison:

The real star of “A Boy and His Dog,” he said, was the dog; a trained animal named Tiger.

“The son of a bitch did better than I did,” he said. “Had his own car, his own motel room. And where we were shooting, the mosquitoes were so big, the only sleep you got was when they lifted up to the ceiling; you could doze off on the way down, before you hit the floor.

“That dog knew 40 or 50 words. Once it did six tricks in a row, without us having to cut, and that’s unheard of for a dog. He works all over the place. He was in the Brady Bunch, now he’s on the Cher show . . . but I think he liked our picture best, because in the farewell scene, he cried. And those were real tears, too.”

And Harlan is still rankled, says Don McGregor, in “A Boy, A Dog, A Woman – and L.Q. Jones and Harlan Ellison: A Writer’s Wounds 40 Years Later”.

(9) Hammacher Schlemmer is offering a life-size (I think) plush talking Yoda for $99.95. Since this is a kid’s toy I hope Yoda’s repertoire includes warnings like, “Sit on my head do not!”

(10) Weird Tales is looking for fiction for a theme issue involving Nicola Tesla.

(11) It turns out our space program has discovered a new lifeform – in spacecraft clean rooms.

(12) FX has ordered 13 episodes of Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain. Ironically, the series ended up being adapted from a book only because del Toro originally couldn’t get the idea made as a TV show

FX is looking at July 2014 to premiere the series, which will star Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris, House of Cards) as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (fancy!) investigating a viral, soon-to-be-vampiral outbreak in New York.

(13) And when del Toro gets finished with The Strain, he’s slated to begin filming Crimson Peak:

Guillermo del Toro’s gothic thriller Crimson Peak begins shooting February 2014 once the director has wrapped work on The Strain for FX, reports THR.

Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska are set to star.

According to the outlet, an April 2015 release month is being eyed for the film.  Legendary Pictures is shepherding the production.

When we spoke to Del Toro earlier this year, he told us:

“Crimson Peak is a much, much, much smaller movie, completely character-driven.  It’s an adult movie, an R-rated movie, pretty adult.  Shockingly different from anything I’ve done in the English language.  Normally, when I go to do a movie in America for the spectacle and younger audience, for Blade or whatever.  This movie’s tone is scary and it’s the first time I get to do a movie more akin to what I do in the Spanish movies.”

(14) Lastly, James H. Burns says he heard this joke from George Wells:

“Do you know why Thor likes to ride the subway?

“He has a Loki-motive.”

[Thanks for these links goes out to John King Tarpinian, Bob Vardeman, David Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster and James H. Burns.]

Update 11/26/2013: Corrected incredibly embarassing misspelling of headlined aircraft. And while I’m at it I suppose I should take the “x” out of Alec Guiness’ first name before somebody notices that, too. What a maroon I am. P.S. The number 127 was the registration number assigned to the Graf Zeppelin.

7 thoughts on “Snapshots 127 Graf Zeppelin

  1. Finding life forms in space craft cleaning rooms can only end badly, as shown in THE GREEN SLIME.

    Some of Nicola Tesla’s biographers have suggested he was a Martian. Excerps from these tomes might be in order.

    Harlan Ellison, it’s time to let go of your anger.

    One of those large yellow arrows will open Superman’s Fortress of Solitude…or was that the inspiration?

  2. Sad that also after 40 years McGregor is still trying to insinuate himself as a writer on Ellison’s level.

  3. Remarkably, all of Guinness’ platoon were portrayed by Peter Sellers…

    (In all seriousness, I wonder if Guinness’ admirable efforts in World War II was one of the reasons so many vets of that era liked him so much–that, and his remarkable talent. of course!)

    By the way, if I eat a lot of that new breakfast cereal, will I be “A real erewhon Man”?


  4. Hey, I remember Serutan (“Natures spelled backwards). It was a psyllium-based laxative (Metamucil also contains psyllium), and was, like Geritol, heavily advertised on radio and later on TV from the ’30s to the early ’60s to what we would now call the “mature demographic”. I remember its ads on the Lawrence Welk Show when I was a kid in the ’50s (My parents liked to watch that show, even though they were only in their 30s and 40s at the time.) I’m not sure whether it’s still available, but it may very well be. Two more fun facts: Serutan is the name of a resort in Indonesia; and the name of the Saruman character in “Bored of the Rings”.

  5. I only just now noticed the misspelling of “Zeppelin”. As usual with Mike’s snapshots, I have no idea how “Graf Zeppelin” (or “Zeppelin”) relates to the number 127.

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