Post Foolscap

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Whatwhatwhat
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Post Foolscap

Postby Whatwhatwhat » Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:00 pm

Wow. I don't want to say Harlan came off like a complete ass, but I'd be lying. I sat in when he had some sort of weird confrontation with Penny Arcade creators "Gabe" and "Tycho." A tip: trying to imply that people who don't know that "foolscap" is another term for paper are ignorant fools makes you look like a pompous jackass. Way to be cool.

ReverendTed
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Postby ReverendTed » Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:47 pm

They've posted their own account here, but I'd be very interested in hearing the other side of the story, though I'd imagine it involves "not being shown respect by a couple of college dropouts that crack d**k jokes for a living." (A title I seriously doubt they'd refuse.)

I'll admit that I'm a fan of theirs, and I've never read anything by Ellison, but Mike ("Gabe") definately doesn't win any points with me by pulling a few low blows in that post and the one that follows it.

(In their defense, I graduated Summa Cum Laude and wasn't aware until that a 13x16" writing paper was known as a foolscap.)

KristinRuhle
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Postby KristinRuhle » Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:55 pm

If you've never read anything by Ellison why are you here? I mean, a lot of us have nothing in common except (borrowing a quote from the Webmaster) we "just like what the guy writes." And even if you hate his guts - your privilege I guess - y gotta admit Harlan can write.

Oh, and Harlan seems to want to know what people are accusing him of behind his back, not that he hasn't heard it all 1,000x10 to the 50th power times before. (No, I don't mean TLDV...please don't bring that up....please....there's still a usenet group for Harlan-bashing I think...)

kristin

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Jon Stover
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Postby Jon Stover » Mon Sep 26, 2005 11:33 pm

What's interesting (and laudable) is that the mods at the penny arcade bbs have already locked down at least two 'Harlan Ellison sucks' threads. Tycho and Kepler have every right to talk about their Bad Ellison Experience, but it is nice to see at least some attempt to prevent a brush fire. My actual guess would be that WattWotWat is hoping to start an actual fight, and while I'm not an expert on preventing warfare, I really would suggest that no one go out and start a fight over there. As with the whole Troll Kingdom thingie, this looks like random shit-disturbing by someone trying to play 'let's you and him fight' and not some goofy board vs. board battle. The penny arcade board is not boiling with anti-Ellison bile, in other words, and does not require a stern dressing-down or even a mild wardrobe adjustment.

Cheers, Jon

rich

Postby rich » Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:27 am

Well, I did straighten my tie a bit, Jon. But the hair remains tousled.

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:05 am

These people remind me of the same tripe mongers who said that Casablanca was slow and boring. Better to ignore them.

ReverendTed
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Postby ReverendTed » Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:29 am

KristinRuhle wrote:If you've never read anything by Ellison why are you here?

A perfectly reasonable question. My curiosity was piqued by "Gabe's" description of the events, and only intensified as my cursory Google inquiries turned up more information about Harlan's obviously illustrious career. Based on my (obviously limited) knowledge of the man (the myth, the legend), it seemed entirely out of character for him to behave as "Gabe" described.
So, in short, pure personal curiosity and a wish to reconcile the accounts with my accepted worldview and the behavioral expectations sprung thereof.

For the record, I'm a tremendous Clarke fan, enjoy the occasional Chrichton, and have never really developed a taste for Asimov or the fantasy genre. I know the easiest way to feel it out is to Read A Book, but how does this profile fit with Ellison's work?

Flintlock
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Postby Flintlock » Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:59 am

I happen to be a fan of both Harlan Ellison and Penny Arcade. Unfortunately, "Gabe" is known for being a somewhat colorful and boastful prick, who generally drags "Tycho," face concealed, unwillingly into whatever little spat he's instigated. I think most people accept that Gabe's infantile jabs at Harlan in his latest news posts are pathetic. I don't think Gabe speaks for Penny Arcade.

That said, Harlan's jabs at Gabe during the Foolscap presentation were equally childish. Yes, I get it; Harlan is a crotchety old writer with a reputation for being brazen and outspoken, in the fine tradition of Bradbury, et al. I'm afraid that doesn't excuse him from the modest expectation of showing a bit of respect to his fellow guests of honor, whether they are writers of his calibur or not.

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akojen
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Postby akojen » Tue Sep 27, 2005 12:30 pm

If you're expecting Harlan to show a certain amount of respect to ANYONE, forget it. This is the man who makes fun of strangers' age, alleged lack of bladder control, fashion sense, technical savvy, diet, and anything else that might cross his mind. This kind of talk isn't limited to strangers. I've been casual friends with Harlan for years, and if anything, this makes me MORE of a target. I fully expect some of my dinner conversation to turn up in anecdotes in later panels--PARTICULARLY if I'm in attendance (I saw him light up and start his mental tape recorder while I was speaking).

No one gets a free ride with Harlan. If you're civil, that doesn't mean he won't rag on you. It means he likes you and doesn't intend to really hurt you. But that's about all you get. If you're rude or foolish, he responds harshly, but it doesn't mean you've "gotten to him" in any lasting manner. So however the Penny Arcade posters might spin and froth, all this will become is another horror story added to Harlan's long, long list.
"Now give me some inner peace or I'll mop the floor with ya!" -- Homer Simpson

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Tue Sep 27, 2005 3:56 pm

They do know that Harlan bites, right?

rich

Postby rich » Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:09 pm

akojen wrote:If you're expecting Harlan to show a certain amount of respect to ANYONE, forget it.


I just don't understand this. I am a BIG fan of Harlan Ellison's work and I've met the man (and nothing but civil towards me), but I just don't understand this desire to accept this FLAW in Harlan. You're his buddy, great, accept it, but don't make excuses for it.

akojen wrote:No one gets a free ride with Harlan. If you're civil, that doesn't mean he won't rag on you. It means he likes you and doesn't intend to really hurt you.


I don't think anyone's looking for a free ride. As far as HE not intending to hurt anyone, well I guess if someone gets their feelings hurt it's their fault, right?

Look: I have no idea if Harlan Ellison is an asshole or acted like an asshole at Foolscap or whatever, but I do know that the excuses and the "that's just the way HE is" can only go so far. You know, even if it was just a "that's just the way HE is" that'd be fine. But most of the stuff coming from us regulars is "HE's better than them so he can say what he wants so count yourself lucky, boy". It's the exact same thing the Penny Arcaders are saying about their man.

We sound like that fucking little dog that used to hang out with Spike: "What are we gonna do now, Spike, huh? Huh?" And Spike slaps the dog for no reason other than he can. As a matter of fact, we're so fucked up that when he slaps us, we brag about it.

No more bragging. No more apologies and excuses. The man's a great writer and I leave it at that.

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akojen
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Postby akojen » Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:30 pm

Maybe you and I were raised among different sorts of people, rich. I had a family that zinged one another on a regular basis. I'm not used to that sort of behavior from Harlan in particular; I've ALWAYS dealt with it from friends and family. And I give as good as I get. If you pop Harlan effectively, sharply, with humor, he enjoys it as much as anyone. In general, yeah--he's a charming, civil guy. But he is incapable of letting a perfect setup slide by. And if he hurts someone who doesn't understand "that's just the way he is," he WILL apologize, sincerely, without placing any of the blame on the injured party. I was also witness to THIS several times during this particular convention.

All the above is based on my personal experience with Harlan. YMMV.

amy
"Now give me some inner peace or I'll mop the floor with ya!" -- Homer Simpson

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Jim Davis
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Regarding Gabe & Tycho vs. Harlan

Postby Jim Davis » Wed Sep 28, 2005 1:04 am

--
"His plan therefore was not to refuse admission to the idea, but to keep it at bay until his mind was ready to receive it. Then let it in and pulverise it. Obliterate the bastard."--Samuel Beckett

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Jim Davis
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Postscript in reply to an email

Postby Jim Davis » Wed Sep 28, 2005 6:11 am

No, I'm not calling Harlan a fucking hobbit! Jesus . . .
--

"His plan therefore was not to refuse admission to the idea, but to keep it at bay until his mind was ready to receive it. Then let it in and pulverise it. Obliterate the bastard."--Samuel Beckett

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Jim Davis
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Damn you, insomnia!

Postby Jim Davis » Wed Sep 28, 2005 7:27 am

All right, I guess I do have something else to say on the subject:

I wasn't at Foolscap, but given Hank Graham's last post and Gabe's self-serving comments on his website, I doubt offering the dunce cap to Harlan was quite as innocent as it was made out to be. Still, considering the whole thing involved no more than ten seconds tops of awkwardness on a con stage, it hardly deserves all the Sturm und Drang that's gone on over the past couple days. Whenever I see trivial stuff like this on the internet, I always ask myself, "Would an adult, preferably one who has a modicum of outside interests and who isn't a shut-in as a result of a hideous, disfiguring industrial accident, really give a shit about any of this?" Don't get me wrong: post-bombing Webderland is twenty kinds of pathetic, and that Gabe didn't make it loud and clear he disapproves of his "fans" acting this way doesn't exactly endear him to me. In the end, though, as someone else puts it, this is "gossip about gossip," and not worth even a fraction of all the time put into it.

That aside, rich makes a good point. I've spent time with Harlan, and I've personally witnessed behavior from him that ranges from the incredibly selfless and generous--ask me sometime about the solid he did for a former Webderlander who'd fallen on hard times--to the borderline-abhorrent. He's a great writer, a vital force in cotemporary letters, and has a joie de vivre that others can only envy. He can also be (news flash!) a complete asshole. As Rick said, this shouldn't be news to anyone. What gets me, though, is how his fans, instead of acknowledging this or making a decent case that he was provoked in a particular instance, will get all defensive and claim that his assholery isn't really that at all. It's like that scene in Casablanca where Captain Renault claims to be shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in Rick's place. Well, sometimes the argument that Harlan is just being Harlan and everyone else is a wilting flower strikes me as being about as credible, as far as I'm concerned.

Now, that doesn't mean that people aren't being milquetoasts when they get offended at some of what Harlan says. Like I said, I've been around the man enough to realize that he says "Fuck off!" like other people say "Excuse me," or "How ya doin'?" It can be an affectionate way of busting chops, and you either get over that and move on, or you don't. But when he's clearly in the wrong--as he acknowledges many, many times--it's disingenuous to say his bad behaviour is anything but. (Again, I'm not talking about Foolscap, where he probably had good reasons to act the way he did.) He's a human being, albeit a smart, talented, and experienced one, and is as flawed and clay-footed as any one of us. To claim otherwise does him a disservice, and kind of misses the point of much of his writing, to boot. Besides, hero worship is such a drag--isn't it better to treat people as, well, people, without all this fanboy revisionism getting in the way?

P.S. This wasn't directed at anything you said, Amy. This is more of a general, state-of-the-Webderland address that I probably will forget writing in, oh, two or three days . . .
--

"His plan therefore was not to refuse admission to the idea, but to keep it at bay until his mind was ready to receive it. Then let it in and pulverise it. Obliterate the bastard."--Samuel Beckett


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