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Archive for March, 2012

Stats Entertainment

For those of you who were curious, my calculations show that I have been contributing an average of c. 1,350 words per week to Marvel University.  And that’s just the rate at which they post them; since I’m trying to work as far ahead as possible, I actually write significantly more than one post per week.  In case you were wondering why things have been a bit lean over here at BOF lately…

Just proving once again that Turafish isn’t the only one who’d like to post more on his own blog, but has trouble finding the time.

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Court of First Resort

You should all be so lucky to have a friend like Gilbert Colon.  In addition to being one of my biggest cheerleaders, he is—to quote his official bio—“a County Clerk’s Office employee,” in which capacity he first set out to promote my magnum opus, Richard Matheson on Screen, by interviewing me for the court newsletter Just Us.  Then, ever seeking a bigger venue, he beefed up the New York references we’d taken pains to include and arranged for the piece to be printed in The New York Review of Science Fiction, wherein I’d also published some Matheson reviews.

Fast-forward a few months to February, by which time Gil had taken up his cudgels on behalf of no lesser light than Douglas Trumbull, and written an impassioned article lamenting the fact that Trumbull had been passed over for an Oscar nomination for The Tree of Life, which he placed on the SF Signal site.  Lo and behold, less than three weeks later, he got them to run our interview, presumably ensuring its biggest exposure…so far.  If my ego really were as big as I profess it to be, I’d suspect he wrote the whole Trumbull piece just to establish a beachhead for Yours Truly.

Thanks, partner.

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Twelve to the Moon

I recently saw Jeffrey Roth’s excellent documentary about the Apollo space program, The Wonder of It All (2007), and although this is not a review per se, it did get me thinking.  It’s a subject of considerable inspiration to me (ditto the Mercury program so entertainingly depicted in The Right Stuff [1983], albeit to a lesser degree). In 1994, in my previous incarnation as a book publicist, I had the honor of working on A Man on the Moon, Andrew Chaikin’s account of the Apollo program that was the basis for the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon (1998).

It amazes me that out of all of the billions of people who have ever lived since the dawn of man, only twelve have ever set foot on another world. (All of them Americans, I might add, for you fellow patriots out there.)  Seven of them are interviewed in Roth’s film:  Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Eugene Cernan, Charlie Duke, Edgar D. Mitchell, Harrison Schmitt, and John Young, all of whom are well-spoken and put an impressively human face on this literally otherworldy accomplishment.

It amazes me that in spite of the unimaginable distance and danger, which would probably kill me with stark terror (since, among other things, I have claustrophobia, acrophobia, and a fear of suffocation…just the guy you want to launch into an airless vacuum in a tiny capsule!), most of the crews from Apollo 11 on made it there and back again.

It inspires the hell out of me that John F. Kennedy (who I consider one of our greatest Presidents, and partly for this exact reason) challenged the nation in 1961 to send a man to the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade–at a time when, by the admission of the astronauts interviewed, nobody really had any idea how to do it–and BY GOD WE DID IT. And it’s extra-tragic that he didn’t live to see that day.

And, as one of said astronauts pointed out, the fact that they got Apollo 13 (whose story I found even more gripping in A Man on the Moon than in the eponymous 1995 film, which starred future FTETTM executive producer Tom Hanks) back safely, against–if you’ll pardon the pun–astronomical odds, is perhaps an even greater tribute to the program than Apollo 11 and the other moon landings themselves.

Food for thought.

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A Guy Named Johan

I was saddened this morning to learn of the death at 88 on February 25 of Swedish actor Erland Josephson, who collaborated with Ingmar Bergman on the stage and in more than a dozen films over a period of almost sixty years, from It Rains on Our Love (1946) to Saraband (2003), but is probably best remembered as Johan, Liv Ullmann’s husband in Scenes from a Marriage (1973). He also co-wrote Bergman’s All These Women (1964), appeared in The Passion of Anna (1969), The Touch (1971), Cries and Whispers (1972), and Face to Face (1976), and worked with other filmmakers such as Andrei Tarkovsky (Nostalgia, 1983; The Sacrifice, 1986), Philip Kaufman (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1988), and Peter Greenaway (Prospero’s Books, 1991). Also dead at 88 the day before was Jan Berenstain, who with her late husband, Stan, wrote and illustrated hundreds of books featuring the eponymous Berenstain Bears; I can’t tell you how many of those delightful escapades I read to my daughter over and over, so it feels like a piece of her childhood has died as we bid farewell to two talented, if utterly dissimilar, artists.

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Spelunking

Just a quick shout-out to the folks at Cave Comics, a moderately sized but eminently welcoming shop located in the former train station in nearby Newtown, Connecticut. Although the Silver- and primarily Bronze-Age back issues I’m seeking to fill the few remaining holes in my collection are getting ever-harder to find, Cave Comics is impressively well stocked in some of those areas, and even honored a nine-year-old gift certificate–bought for me by Madame BOF, who used to work around the corner–when I recently returned there after far too long an absence. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable; they offer graphic novels, trade paperbacks, figurines, and other tchotchkes, as well as comics old and new; they have gaming and an online store for those interested in such things (although there’s no substitute for the tactile joys of a bricks-and-mortar comic shop); and they even have two beautiful canine “Vice Presidents,” Elektra and Kirby…so what’s not to like?

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Part of my “day job” as Copy Specialist for the PCS Stamps & Coins division of MBI, Inc. is to license images for use on our various collector panels and other products, so I had occasion today to contact the New York Public Library in that capacity for the first time. Lo and behold, the guy whose own day job is Manager of Rights & Permissions for the NYPL, Tom Lisanti, is not only a fellow McFarland author (e.g., Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker, Beach and Elvis Movies; Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films & TV 1962-1973), but also a fellow contributor to Cinema Retro whom I met in Manhattan at a delightful get-together for Retro writers hosted by our own “Dear Leader,” Lee Pfeiffer, at the Players Club (founded by 19th-century Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes) a couple of years back. Tom is a capital fellow who helped me with some advice while I was writing Richard Matheson on Screen, and duly appears in my acknowledgments. Those interested in the skull-splintering output of quintessential shlockmeister Larry Buchanan–and who isn’t?–will enjoy this article on Creature of Destruction from his website. Great to renew your acquaintance, Tom!

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