By the time I met Harlan Ellison in 1975, he had been a powerhouse of American science fiction and pop culture for about 15 years. Unfortunately, I met him on the day he was booked to make an SRO presentation to students at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. i had just picked the lock on a glass display case in the student union and was helping myself to autographed copies of Ellison’s publicity photo.
Suddenly, Ellison stuck a steel index finger into my 17th vertebra. “You’d better wait ‘til this guy is dead before you start pilfering his promotional totems.” Without turning to look behind me, I improv’d fastest, dumbest retort I could think of: “Why should I bother? As near as I can tell, this midget is no bigger than you are, Shrimpie!”
On that note, Ellison spun me around. “Do you know who I am?” he growled. “No,” I said, “but I’m pretty sure your owner is losing his or her mind right now. Come with me, and I’ll take you down to the Lost and Found.”
What can I say? I have a magic way when it comes to making first impressions.
Crackling with infectious energy, :Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth” pays homage to the dark prince of American letters, Harlan Ellison. Master of his craft, Ellison has heroically produced over 75 books and more than 1,700 classics of fiction and non-fiction on one of his Olympia manual typewriters, including the single most popular Star Trek episode (“City on the Edge of Forever”) —from Trailer’s promo
Without my walking stick
I’d go insane
I can’t look my best I feel undressed
Without my cane
With two broken vertebrae, a dead sciatic nerve, and my maiden aunt Bernice’s choking fear of nightfall, I had enough walking canes, sword canes and decorative Civil War cudgels to equip the road company of Red Badge Of Courage. By and large, that all happened before Leon released Without My Walking Stick, a tune I grew to love like a rock n’ roll groupie.
Now that I am additionally tied to several different flavors of Blind Guy canes as tall and thin as a willow rod, this song is practically my marching theme.
One last thing: the actual provenance for “Without My Walking Stick” precedes Leon Redbone by at least forty or fifty years. Below the fold, you’ll find a 78 RPM version of the song recorded by Tommy Dorsey. Oh, and BTW, you should never forget that the tune was written by (*gasp!*) Irving Berlin!!!
A “Tokamak” is a doughnut-shaped fusion reactor—often as much as hundreds of miles in circumference—that can control the plasma-scale temperatures of fusion energy by channeling thermal streams around a super-powered magnetic racetrack.
After decades of research on prototype Tokamak designs, the Iter project has recieved a final go-ahead from 34 international governments. That’s really satisfying to me, because fusion power is one of the few “sure bets” for sustainable power generation in the future. Not quite as important as that, I should note that the last time I presented a technical pitch on fusion technology at an international science conference, the topic was the Iter project. Not saying I made the Iter project happen, just that—like thousands of other people—I gave it a nudge.
Granted, it wasn’t as much fun as Billy Zane, Leo DiCaprio, The Heart Of The Ocean and that slinky flapper who was Claude Rains’ girlfriend in The Invisible Man… but this tuneful memorial to the sinking Titanic remains a wonderful tribute to the April 15th birthday of America’s colossal maritime tragedy.
This is Polly posting for Strange, who could not let Jonathan Winters’ passing go unremarked. Winters’ brilliance is perhaps no more perfectly illustrated than by the wild, multitudinous and instant characterizations he created, particularly the ones he wasn’t supposed to create while filming ads for products he was supposedly pitching, like the out-takes for Good Humor bars here.
One of Strange’s old flames was the daughter of the director who filmed Winters’ Hefty ads, and had a reel of such out-takes which so far seem not to have made it to You-tube, but which Strange was lucky enough to see. One sample line, from a rueful coach: “Fifty-six to nothin’ in the first quarter——somebody’s not doin’ their job!”
The penultimate part of my stream-of-consciousness romp through the past year on Rumproast takes us from the suspense of the eve of the first Presidential Debate to the glorious GOP recriminations and infighting of the end of November. Part 5—December—will follow tomorrow (Sunday).
...qr at least it’s safe to say that formal attire and buzzing, hive-like sound effects were optional. All I wanted to do was see what I was looking at.
Today, it turns out that even replacement eyes are hard to come by. I was driven to my eye and ear center this morning, presumably for the unveiling of a prosthetic eye that was being hand-painted for me by a local ocularist. Instead, I was thrown out of my doctor’s office for not already having acquired a fake eye at a cost of $3,000 out-of-pocket. No-one had ever told me that buying a prosthetic peeper was my job, and that I would be subjected to howls of derisive laughter for not doing the job no one ever assigned me.
Now, I’m a blind guy with one eye and a “your ad here” sign in the other socket and all I have for the moment is the marvelous magical Residents who must have bought their eyes in bulk. Feast your orbs!
The world is on fire
Your body doesn’t burn
Kill yourself before receiving
Something out of all this breathing Don’t you ever learn
“Don’t you ever learn?” is a song about temptation, easy solutions and stupid decisions. Playing it just the other day reminded me yet again that the first 56 years of my life were a long pleasant boulevard through time, lined on either curbside by things that had fallen out of my pockets over the years. Wandering this street at my leisure after living it in real time has yielded many treasures comparable to finding money wedged between two cobblestones or a brand new Portofino cigar still in its tube. I plan to spend a lot of time here from now on, and I intend to equip myself with a pair of high-capacity swag bags to hold all the tips and trinkets and memorabilia that I encounter in my travels. ETW, this is my last self-serving tribute to Todd—at least for today. Some other day, I may feel an urgent need to write my long-delayed master’s thesis on “International Feel,” the kick-ass bookend tune from A Wizard, A True Star.
Who knew that two years ago I’d shoot myself in the head, go blind, rack up a two-million dollar hospital bill, suffer the non-fatal effects of cold-turkey withdrawal from cigarettes and alcohol, die a half-dozen or so non-clinical forms of clinical death, and resurrect myself months later in a world where Sarah Palin wasn’t even running for magistrate of the sanitation division, and the GOP had just placed all of its mismatched irreplaceable sulphur-stenched eggs in Mitt Romney’s spectacularly ill-woven basket.
What can I tell you? Time flies when you’re dead.
Here’s what else I can tell you: God bless the Pips for taking up the gauntlet of being fired by Gladys Knight with a stunning medley of And The Pips top 40 hits, entirely driven by toasty harmonies and occasional woo-woo! sounds, and unencumbered by the usual, predictable, elevator-worthy one-mike stand. This was a memorable moment from Richard Pryor’s summer TV variety series in the late 1970s.
Given the fact that I don’t remember 90% of what happened last week, the fact that I thought to include it in this post is testimony to Pryor’s uneraseable presence in American minds.
Part 3 of my roundup, after the fold, spans the “Good grief, is Mitt really relying on the Breitbartlets to win this thing for him?!” of early July to the plaintive “Are we there yet?” whimper of the end of September.
Just about every outlet runs a recap of the year at this point in the calendar, so I figured I’d join ‘em.
After the fold and in the subsequent parts you’ll find a whizz through the highlights and lowlights of the year I’ve chosen to cherrypick from the pages of Rumproast, along with some nominees for Headline of the Month. All this is obviously open to debate and I’m sure there are plenty of folks who’ll disagree with my choices in what is of necessity a very sketchy and superficial skim of 2012’s themes. If so, feel free to pipe up in the comments.
Poll, if I may interrupt for a second, I am really irritated at the way they allow Newt Gingrich to continue living on.
—my mother, at noon, and not a drop taken (so far).
Mama-San arrived yesterday, with her traditional complement of leftovers in baggies, family-size bottles of vino in case Chez Polly does not provide, and the non-crushable Shirt Which Must Be Carried Separately, which must not be housed in any kind of luggage, but travel with its own hanger, not to be confused with any other hanger which could not possibly be as good. I had been introducing her to Charles Pierce with this piece, which is how we got to Newt, though with Mama-San, we could just as easily have gotten from there to her hatred of English toast racks or “EC cetera.”
My nonagenarian mother will be here taking care of me while I do a four-day internship taking care of youngsters in their eighties, starting Christmas Eve. So if I don’t get another chance to say it, Roasters, how rare and wonderful it is to spend another year with you! And Merry Whatever You Wish.
Ask anyone in advertising: they’ll tell you this video clip is the most spot-on parody of creative hackdom ever produced, and proof positive that Poe’s Law abides.
It goes without saying that I will never again be involved in graphic or video advertising services; and, certainly no one will ever pay me to put my eyes behind an SLR viewfinder or at the wheel of a high-end digital videocam.
‘Tis true: the biggest job on my plate right now is to find a way to feed myself for the next twenty years. The cats are living in foster homes. I’m probably moving to subsidized housing for the disabled. And my one great hope is that talking computers can compensate for a blind man’s keyboard disorientation. It’s gonna be a brand new future for me. One that I hope will be more than modestly shared with the brave ranks of Rumproasters!