Snapshots 52 Pickup

Here are 11 developments of interest to fans.

(1) It’s impossible today to imagine someone trying to pass off Ray Bradbury’s most famous story as his own – but Ray wasn’t always that well-known, y’see. Classic TV History Blog tells the fascinating story of the forgotten 1957 TV show plagiarized from Fahrenheit 451 and the lawsuit that followed:

A book agent named Robert Kirsch blew the whistle on “A Sound of Different Drummers” even before the live broadcast went off the air.  Kirsch called Bradbury.  Bradbury watched the end of the show.  He blew his stack….  He called his lawyer the next day.

…Bradbury’s attorney, Gerson Marks, found a paper trail proving that CBS had almost bought the TV rights to the book in 1952, and that Robert Alan Aurthur had considered buying it when he was story-editing Philco at NBC during its final (1954-1955) season.  Aurthur testified.  He fessed up to having seen an old summary prepared by Bernard Wolfe, the CBS story editor who optioned Fahrenheit 451 in 1952.  But he denied having read the book itself.

(2) Ron Cobb’s political cartoons in the LA Free Press still echo in memory long after the turbulent Sixties, a brilliant resume created in a few short years before Cobb immersed himself in movie work.

He never was overshadowed by the city’s other renowned cartoonist, the LA Times’ prize-winning Paul Conrad, which says a lot.

Bill Warren pointed out Cobb’s new website to me because the artist is a LASFS member – he joined in the 1950s and even appeared at the first meeting in the original LASFS clubhouse in 1973. About that time Ron Cobb and Bill Rotsler might have passed for brothers. In fact, I once misidentified him as Rotsler in the group photo of the pros at that first meeting before seeing his name on a scan of the sign-up sheet from that night.   

(Cobb’s website is under construction – there’s actually not much art posted yet.)

(3) The “Luann” comic strip about a steampunk Halloween costume is timely for me – a dad organizing a convention program with a steampunk theme really does need to “get with it.” 

(4) Diana has an excellent post on her blog discussing the insecurity some of us feel about our vocation, “Are You A Writer?” The hunger for outside validation can be a big problem. To that Diana replies:

If somebody can give you that identity, then someone else can take it away… So how about this instead…

(5) Next: the Amazon Kindle in living color:

E Ink Corp., the company that makes the black-and-white display for Inc.’s Kindle, said it will begin selling screens that also show colours.

The new technology, called E Ink Triton, displays 16 shades of gray, along with thousands of colours. As with other E Ink displays, people should be able to read it anywhere without having to squint.

The most surprising part of this announcement wasn’t the technological breakthrough. It was finding the link reported by the Canadian Booksellers Association’s newsletter in a snark-free news item. But as they say, a foolish consistency…

(6) “Kansas City in 2016 will be sponsoring a Saturday Lunch at Smofcon,” Diane Lacey told the Smofs list. “Expect KC style smoked meat, KC bbq sauce, coleslaw, baked beans and perhaps even an ant or two. A vegetarian option will be available.”

What is the vegetarian option of an ant — an ent?

(7) I laughed when I read the lead sentence in Christopher Rosen’s Movieline item, “Steven Spielberg’s Terra Nova Fires Most of Writing Staff”

Who knew making a television show about time travel and dinosaurs would be so difficult? Oh, right, everyone.

Depending how someone spins the story, a report in the LA Times that  the majority of the writing staff on the Steven Spielberg-produced Terra Nova got pink-slipped may have been either an admission of failure or a thrifty business decision:

…But because that pushed the bulk of episode production back until next summer, 20th Century Fox Television was faced with the prospect of paying a lot of writers to do not very much over the next few months. Instead, it decided to hand out a pink slip to any writer it did not have an overall deal with… “These are expensive writers,” one insider said. The studio will either rehire the writers next year — if they are available — or scout new talent.

(8) Roger Tener recently ran this quote in Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol:

Because we don’t understand the brain very well we’re constantly tempted to use the latest technology as a model for trying to understand it. In my childhood we were always assured that the brain was a telephone switchboard. (What else could it be?) And I was amused to see that Sherrington, the great British neuroscientist, thought that the brain worked like a telegraph system. Freud often compared the brain to hydraulic and electromagnetic systems. Leibniz compared it to a mill, and now, obviously, the metaphor is the digital computer. -John R. Searle, philosophy professor (b. 1932)

So in the tradition of comparing the brain to our most advanced technology, we would describe the brain today as just like…Facebook?

Original Apple logo.

(9) It’s not too late to own an Apple-1 hand-built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak:

An auctioneer is selling its distant ancestor and one of the world’s first personal computers — the Apple-1 — for an estimated $161,600 to $242,400.

In 1976, Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the computer out of Jobs’ family garage and sold it for $666.66.

(10) Or maybe you will want to hang onto that cash until you can buy a ticket for a rocket ride into space. Popsci has a photo of the groundbreaking ceremony for America’s first commercial spaceship factory:

Who says America isn’t a manufacturing economy anymore? The country has already dedicated her first commercial spaceport, and yesterday construction kicked off on her first commercial spaceship factory. The nearly 70,000 square foot facility, home of the The Spaceship Company, will build Virgin Galactic’s fleet of White Knights and SpaceShips, the carrier craft and rocket planes (respectively) that are expected to be ferrying passengers to the edge of space sometime late next year.

(11) Sherwood Smith, among the earliest Mythopoeic Society members and an outstanding blogger, shares her memories of founder Glen GoodKnight, who recently passed away.

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, Andrew Porter, Bill Warren, James Hay and Diana Glyer. No refunds will be offered if it’s discovered that Gary Faber ran some of these links months ago.]

Update 11/13/2010: Corrected numbering of items lest I end up implying there are 11, but only 9 of interest…

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6 thoughts on “Snapshots 52 Pickup

  1. With regard to letting go the writers and staff for Terra Nova, the major studios did that during the WGAw strike of recent memory — everyone who wasn’t locked into being paid through a long-term contract was let go.

    Television writer and KABC radio host Ken Levine says this is shortsighted on the studio’s/networks’ part, as sometime soon one of them is going to lose a Lost-sized hit this way as someone previously signed is going to be free to take their mega-hit idea elsewhere which they couldn’t before being let go.

  2. Is that my group photo Mike? I know that I gave an enlargement to the library at the first clubhouse and it hung there for years. I was wondering if this was it as I turned the negs over to Bruce Pelz years ago.

  3. “No refunds will be offered if it’s discovered that Gary Faber ran some of these links months ago.”

    Where does that guy blog? Interesting name: I’d like to take a look.


  4. Thanks for the Ron Cobb link! I’ve been a fan since those Freep cartoons, too many of which are still current.
    The guy who invented the “ecology theta” symbol and really did make a time machine out of a deLorean (and Total Recall‘s Mars, Dark Star‘s special effects, and outfitted Arnold as Conan, and made the Ark of the Covenant) certainly shouldn’t be alien to LASFS.

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