Unca Harlan's Art Deco Dining Pavilion

Archive - 07/24/03 to 10/13/03

Harlan Ellison Webderland: Unca Harlan's Art Deco Dining Pavilion

Unca Harlan's Art Deco Dining Pavilion

P.A. Berman
- Saturday, December 6 2003 19:46:53

Of course I will say, in my own defense, that rather than participating in repetitive "ultramaroon gnashing," it was my reflection on Stephen King's words about how much he prioritizes "the truth inside the lie" that he sees as fiction, which shed new light for me on what he said about Kubrick. I know that many other movies were made of King's movies, some of them FAR, FAR worse than Kubrick's The Shining, that he never bothered to get so worked up over. It puzzled me, and I wondered about it, and still do. One would think he'd get mightily peeved about, say, Maximum Overdrive, or Pet Sematary, the movie. Ah well, I'm sure I won't get an answer, and I'm OK with that.

Ultramaroon signing of,

Barney Dannelke <dannelke01@enter.net>
Allentown, PA. - Saturday, December 6 2003 17:12:22

A delayed and only mildly toxic reaction.

"...after three fucking years of the same redundant opinions surfacing every time some arriviste drops by? Do tell me I've sufficed."

*Snort* Ah, truly you are becoming a citizen of the net. And yet I know this stage is FAR FAR from new to you. I just paid Mike Resnick a [cough cough] chunk of change for one of your 1955 SF Bulletins [because we are really down to the short strokes for Ellison ephemera out here in the wilds of Pennsyltucky] and as I immerse myself in the phenomena of fanzine culture from its letterhacks and incestuous reviews to it's feuds and sniping I see how absolutely nothing has changed except the speed with which one goes from star-struck newbie to burnt out GAFIA bound cynic. All the same steps and side steps only done in triple time. I luvs technology. - B.

- Saturday, December 6 2003 14:12:22


Frank Capra made LOST HORIZON. It was a thousand times better than James Hilton's novel, on which the film was based. It was not JAMES HILTON'S "LOST HORIZON," it was FRANK CAPRA'S INTERPRETATION OF "LOST HORIZON."

Two different entities, in two different -- only minimally similar -- formats.

Orson Welles made THE TRIAL. It was shockingly different than Franz Kafka's novel, on which the film was based. It was not FRANZ KAFKA'S "THE TRIAL," it was ORSON WELLES'S INTERPRETATION OF "THE TRIAL."

Two different entities, in two different -- only minimally similar -- formats.

Stanly Kubrick made THE SHINING. While subjectively sucessful or unsuccessful on its face, it was markedly altered from Stephen King's novel, on which the film was based. It was not STEPHEN KING'S "THE SHINING," it was STANLEY KUBRICK'S INTERPRETATION OF "THE SHINING."

Two different entities, in two diferent -- only minimally similar -- formats.

Could it be more Film Lit 101 presented, for this seemingly endless ultramaroon gnashing to cease, after three fucking years of the same redundant opinions surfacing every time some arriviste drops by? Do tell me I've sufficed.

Bellicose? I say nay. Try welschmertzed-out.

Cheerily, Harlan

Joel McLemore
- Saturday, December 6 2003 13:15:22

I think the problem with both versions of THE SHINING was that the novel just didn't translate to film or television very well. There were too few characters, with a lot of the conflict being interior and not much action till the end.

The Kubrick version is draggy and as a whole I don't think it was a success, but the little things that work really work. The miniseries I don't remember very well, though they did correct some of the flaws King had mentioned in Kubrick's film--I agree with him that Nicholson was a poor casting decision for a character who is supposed to seem ordinary until the Overlook brings out his interior demons. With Nicholson you're expecting him to do something bad/crazy before he even gets to the hotel.

From what I've read about it, it sounds like Kubrick wanted to go in a different direction--King says Kubrick wanted a downer ending. I've always liked King's quote about Kubrick..."I think he wants to make a film that will hurt people."

Thanks for all the reading suggestions...

My wife is waiting to hear about the university job. It's down to her and one other person. Hopefully we'll find out sometime next week.

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Saturday, December 6 2003 12:20:29

I've seen the size of Harlan's bookshelves, and there's nothing worth remarking upon -- they're the same size as any other bookshelves.

Unless you mean the number of them, of course.

- Saturday, December 6 2003 11:55:31

PAB: Can't take credit for the link that "infomite" apprised you of; but I can direct you to the link below:


A terrific magazine about writers and writing (it featured a story on Harlan in March of 2002), the Nov/Dec issue features a darn good, in-depth piece about Stephen King and his Dark Tower series. You can't get to that piece online, but the magazine can be found at Walden Books, Borders and even Barnes
& Noble (now that "Book" went belly-up and their under-the-table monopoly bargain died with it).

Yours in information, the man.

- Saturday, December 6 2003 9:0:1

Bellicose. My mistake, Harlan. Bellicose.

- Saturday, December 6 2003 8:59:16

Who was the maroon who said Harlan's ALWAYS grumpy?

Frank Church
- Saturday, December 6 2003 7:24:8

Brian, Crouch is a very good writer, but his jazz criticism is a bit too elitist for my tastes. And, his unfair disdain of rap is pretty stupid. Rock critic, Dave Marsh rightly calls Crouch a "cultural vigilante."

His Miles Davis essay made me so mad I almost tore his book up. Sure, late Miles is pretty muzak like, but Crouch even goes after Bitches Brew, one of the great fusions of rock and jazz ever. Him, and his butt boy, Wynton Marsalis only see jazz in a small spectrum. They like the dusty, museum like respect for jazz that has turned off younger fans from getting into the music. When you don't let a music evolve, you stifle it. I mean, is pop jazz mostly crap? Sure. But, when you also go after Ornette Coleman, you loose me.

Crouch really pissed me off when he went after Prince; my pick for the single greatest song writer in the last thirty years. Crouch seems to only notice the frills of Princes dress and lifestyle, and not the intricate beauty of the music.

Brian, you are better off reading Robert Christgau, or Dave Marsh, or hell, me. Lol.


Harlan, I'd hate to see the size of your book shelves. Wooop.

Dorie Jennings
- Saturday, December 6 2003 7:23:53

Who me? Nope. Lip buttoned securely and not lurching at all, at all.

Steve D: I'm a fan of Ursula K. LeGuin, but I never could get interested in Doris Lessing ever since I read The Golden Notebook, which I REALLY disliked. Slogged through. OK, I had to write a paper on it, and it was sloooow going. Maybe you can tell me, is that representative of her work? Can you recommend something better? (or if you think that one was good, then something DIFFERENT?)

- Saturday, December 6 2003 6:37:46

Mr Dooner mentions Borges and LeGuin?

Funny you should bring up these two. I just read "Tlon Uqbar" by Borges within the last two weeks. Also finished off "Orsinian Tales" by LeGuin. And Barney's literary nod to Bradbury brings it to 3 for me, with "S is for Space".

"Tlon Uqbar" is one of the very first Borges stories I read, and I found it fascinating. I start to understand the respect with which he is held on this board. The incredible detail with which he imbues the not only the fantastical realm of Tlon Uqbar but of the masquerade and it's societal impacts is overwhelming.

To paraphrase Barney's recent post, Bradbury we love for his prose and style. I just finished the "S is for Space" collection this week. I can swig down Bradbury all day long and still enjoy it and feel refreshed.

Borges, in comparison, I have to take in small doses; it is a literary espresso ristretto to Bradbury's daily cup-o-joe, for me. Concentrated. I have to pay much more attention, flipping back and forth in the pages to review the internal references, double and triple checking my interpretation of the latest passage.

LeGuin's "Orsinian Tales" lies somewhere between. I found the material more complex and the narrative more evocative than Bradbury but still more accessible than Borges. Le Guin fleshes out Orsinia in a collection of tales, whereas Borges puts forth Tlon Uqbar in a collection of pages. The tales themselves were of a different character than what I might expect based on her fantasy genre works.

What are your thoughts Steve?

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
I Wish I Could Be Sure, I Wish I Could Be Sure - Saturday, December 6 2003 3:44:51

Honda Accord

I can’t help sticking in a ballet oriented slant regarding writers that write to be popular. In ballet, George Balanchine was one of the greatest choeographers ever, and he commented at one point on what criteria he judged himself against. I think his (paraphrased) comment is interesting because it contrasts so strongly with the magnificently deep, varied, innovative and powerful work that he turned out during his long career.

‘We (dancers) are here for one ultimate reason: entertainment. E-N-T-E-R-T-A-I-N-M-E-N-T. What we do has to be good tonight. People have to like it TONIGHT. We are not in the business of making pictures that you can hang on a wall and wait 100 years for people to figure out how to like it. What we do exists only as we do it, and then it’s gone forever.’

The written word has an advantage over ballet, as it hangs around in physical form long after it’s created. It does have a chance of being rediscovered and cherished after it’s author has passed on, but who can argue with the professional writers that form their work to be marketeable as it is written? I was unhappy when Arthur C. Clarke started moving the form of his novels more toward the best-seller format, but I’m certainly not going to hold it against him; it’s how he makes his living.

John Thompson
- Saturday, December 6 2003 1:8:6

Regarding criticism, it is probably impossible to develop a personal aesthetic if you don't establish some parameters of good and bad. This all ties in with guilty pleasures, believe it or not.

I was delighted to see Del Rey is republishing Robert E. Howard's original Conan stories. Even now, many decades after his death, his tales of the mighty-thewed barbarian are more ingenious and alive than almost all the heroic fantasy clogging the shelves these days.

Rita Mincer
- Friday, December 5 2003 22:11:43

HE: yes, it's true, I was just jerking your chain, good to see your knife's still sharp. Had to gig the moment, it's a flaw, I live with it...

Roman Castavet

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Friday, December 5 2003 21:16:26

Another name to add to the litany of Artists Commenting on Artists: Stanley Crouch, essayist, commentator, and formidable jazz drummer, is also an exceptional critic of jazz. Crouch tends to get lumped into the conservative heap, but he's far more a _writer_ than an ideologue, and even if you don't agree with his assessments of late-period Miles Davis, his writing is far more rewarding than confounding.

One more Asimov collection? Great. Now, if we could get Westlake to assemble his Dortmunder short-stories into a collection...

Alejandro Riera
chicago, il - Friday, December 5 2003 20:55:25

Okay, add another book to my list of books to be purchased this Xmas: "Thnking Machine".

But, guys, guys, guys, all this talk about King, Grisham, popular lit, et al. has distracted you from the one true literary event of the last two weeks: the publication of Isaac Asimov's final "Black Widowers" anthologies with a couple of unpublished tales and an introduction by our host, Monsieur Ellison himself, courtesy of Carroll and Graf. I got mine yesterday. Where's yours?


P.A. Berman
- Friday, December 5 2003 20:14:5

Infoman: Thanks for the link.

Harlan: Great essay. Thanks for The Secret.

Cindy: I got that snappy aphorism from a Bazooka Joe comic.

Frank: Hooray for you and YOUR snappy aphorism! And your last post; you never cease to cheer me.

Bill: It's Edgar ALLAN Poe. I forced my seventh graders to write it over and over until they got it right.

rich: Yes, The Shining miniseries was mediocre. Many of King's books do not translate well to the screen. Is it the shittiness of most screenplay writers, or is it something about the way King writes that is untranslatable? Anyway, the movies he makes in my mind are always going to be better than what I see on the screen, though I can't help but picture Scott Glenn as Roland.

Dan: Great! I'm only in the middle of The Wasteland, and with tons of grading to do, I don't know WHEN I'm going to get to The Wolves of the Calla, but you've piqued the hell out of my curiosity. Argh!

Buckling down for this alleged blizzard blowing our way, I remain,


- Friday, December 5 2003 19:45:10

Frabjous day calloo callay!!!!!!!!!!

Late Friday nite Fedex!!!!!



Hoop dee doo dee, moses supposes his toeses are roses, but moses he knowses his toeses to be, so moses he knowses his toeses aren't roses, as moses supposes his toeses to be. A mose is a mose, a rose is a rose, hoop dee doo dee lal la la la la la etlatera............

- Friday, December 5 2003 18:58:59

Dear Ms. Mincer:

I am not "bashing" Grisham, I am criticizing the WORK of Grisham. I confess I find your naive comment more than passing disingenuous. It isn't as if one writer commenting on the craft or another is a new concept. Mark Twain on Bret Harte. Mark Twain on James Fenimore Cooper. Truman Capote on Gore Vidal. Gore Vidal on Truman Capote. Edmund Wilson on Nabokov. Sinclair Lewis on Dreiser. Hemingway on Gertrude Stein. And on and on, all the way back to Aeschylus and all the way forward to Tom Wolfe against John Updike. John Gardner savaged everyone (including me), from Vonnegut to Philip Roth. Writers review other writers. That's called The New York Times Book Review.
Who better to do it? You? I think not. Readers in general, have neither the depth or breadth of auctorial experience to talk with sense and evenhandedness (one hopes) about THE CRAFT. Readers are there to be entertained, and if they are, they love the books and the writers, even if the work itself is atrocious.
(Which brings us to the idiot argument of Elitism vs. Plebeianism. I always come down on both sides.)

Your seemingly wide-eyed astonishment that a writer would have a cogent -- however condign or harsh -- literary position on other writers suggests a level of out-of-the-loopness that I cannot bring myself to credit. You are posturing. Whyfor, I do not know. But it doesn't wash. And if you've never encountered musicians criticizing other musicians, I would have to believe that you never encountered an issue of Downbeat, Metronome, Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, FM Review, or any of the other hundred or so magazines devoted to opinion and criticism of musicians, composers, arrangers, sidemen, promoters, et al. You've never read Heifetz on young violinists? Never read Mingus on white jazzmen, and on Norman Mailer's "The White Negro"? Never read Hentoff on Miles, or anything by Whitney Balliett? The libraries are JAMMED CHOCKABLOCK with volumes of critical essays BY musicians ABOUT musicians. You should read Aaron Copland sometime, if you want a demonstration of tonge-lashing, not mere "bashing."

And where have you been for the past three years? Did you miss Tom Wolfe referring to Irving, Mailer and Updike as "The 3 Stooges" as recently as 21 January 2000? Kee-rist, lady, were you raised in a creche?

Please put my mind at ease, and pop back in to say it was all tongue in cheek. Otherwise, I'll be forced to believe that you have moved into the western World only recently, having therebefore dwelt in an ice-rimed cave in the highest, remotest reaches of Bhutan.

And, Dorie, do not lurch forward to chastise me for my churlish response to this "innocent" posting. Sometimes a cigar is NOT just a cigar. I am in a S*W*E*L*L mood, and I'm being polite here. It's just that my bullshit level is clearly lower than yours.

Bewildered by sophomoric comments in this much-vaunted Internet Age of Widespread Information Availability, I remain,

Yr. pal, Harlan Ellison

- Friday, December 5 2003 18:24:56


Dear Aron:

This is one of my more abstract fantasies, but I'll give you this much: Others try to create for us, what they want our image to be. There is a Native American adage that goes something like "It is not what you choose to call me, it is the name I know myself to be." When I wrote this story (and you can look up the copyright date in the indicia of the book) such forcing of a superimposed persona was even more prevalent than today. Particularly for black men and men "of color" of all hues. And one would find, when one acted more to one's own image of oneself, and not to the template, that someone was always waiting to pillory you with "why are you behaving so badly?"
Meaning, of course, "why aren't you behaving the way I have the dream-image of you programmed?"

This is a story told in (pardon my grandiosity) subjective terminology and imagery, Joycean if you wish, but far less Finneganesque than the embarrassingly high-flown verbiage above suggests. It is about a black man of some personal promise, traveling in a white man's world, trying to scope out the parameters of his existence and destiny, while riding a road built by The Man, for The Man's convenience. It is, I suppose, to cap it up, a stranger-in-a-strange-land fable.

I have absolutely no idea if that helps either of you with acquiring the brew, but without going back and rereading that yarn -- written a serious chunk of time ago -- it is the best I can do from memory as to what pushed me to write it. Both Damon Knight and Robert Silverberg contended it's the best story I ever wrote. Me, I'm just happy it's still being read. It was, I'm told, years ahead of its time.

Yr. pal, Harlan

Barney Dannelke <dannelke01@enter.net>
Allentown, PA. - Friday, December 5 2003 18:7:41

Dept. of things I'd like an answer to but am not losing sleep over:

In Harlan's introduction to the Tom Reamy collection SAN DIEGO LIGHTFOOT SUE AND OTHER STORIES he talks about the tendency of writers, many writers but not ALL writers, to have a trick or two that they do, and do so well that, well, all is forgiven. Tom Reamy had some really good ones.

[This is a brutal and perhaps even slightly skewed version of one talking point in a LONG introduction that I have not read in at least 15 years and does not do justice to either Harlan's intro. or the late great Reamy's prose style. Humor me.]

I've been thinking about that introduction and it dovetailed in my mind with the current thread with regard to King and various popular writers. Now we all have our favorites and our guilty pleasures. If you want to look at writers on this side of the ghetto wall I would offer these three as examples;

Bradbury, who doesn't do much by way of intricate plotting but that's ok because we can just dive into that lovely and unique prose style.

Vonnegut, who has a style that's so simple and journalistic that you have to marvel at the sophisticated humanistic agenda behind it and how he puts it forth.


And if these examples don't work for you there are 50 more. Cain, Rohmer, Ballard, Howard, Lovecraft, Stout. Writers who are not "balanced" but who have things that are they do so well when they are on their game that they more than justify their existence, they almost become their own genre/cottage industries.

Here, at last is my question. Has anybody here ever read anything by Barbara Michaels? Because I just do not get it. She, unless it's a psuedonym and I hope it isn't, has something like 30 books out there and I have no idea why this person is in print. None. Is there an INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE or HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER lurking in this body of work? I mean you can slam Clancy and Rice for any number of excesses and eccentricities but they have each knocked it out of the park at least once.

I picked up something by Michaels because Harry Houdini was one of the main characters with the intention of giving it to Tim Richmond because Tim loves Houdini and the first three pages were so bad I thought it was a mistake. Skipped around. More of the same. I mean this was some serious bad writing. Yes Virginia, worse than this post. Now when I see one of her books I check out a page or two just to see if that was a fluke. Not so far and I've scanned about ten. NY Times best seller. 30+ books. Millions sold. What did this person do right to justify this kind of career? Is there a casting couch for bad writers? Could I sleep with someone and get this gig? 'Cause if that's the case I'm sleepy now.

Mark Walsh
- Friday, December 5 2003 16:53:55

And of course it takes Harlan to show us that Chaos Theory is really a postmod, amped-up version of Dewey's Instrumentalism. In 500 words no less!

As always Harlan, Wicked Stellah writin!

With Respect from Bahston,

Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
- Friday, December 5 2003 16:46:14

I just read and enjoyed Harlan's essay at the Butterfly Effect site. Kudos to Harlan and Frank. I'd also recommend the story by Ed Bryant while you're over there.


Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Friday, December 5 2003 15:14:33

Cortazar? Borges? Mahfouz? Oe?

Hey has anybody here read Julio Cortazar's Blow Up and Other Stories? How about "The Aleph" or "Tlon Uqbar" by Borges? What about "Zaabalawi" by Naguib Mahfouz? Or "Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness" by Kenzaburo Oe?

Does anybody read Doris Lessing or Ursula K. Le Guin?

I ask this only because my eyes will bleed if I have to read any more on Grisham and King (and I love King).

Steve Dooner

Steve Dooner

Dan Thorne
Royal Oak, MI - Friday, December 5 2003 12:51:32

Wolves of the Calla
I know several of us are reading or have finished Dark Tower 5: Wolves of the Calla. For those who haven’t, I just wanted to mention that King does something truly surprising at the end that will probably come as a big shock. Don’t worry, I haven’t spoiled anything because you will NOT see it coming. But had I not read any of the Dark Tower books and happened to find out what King does at the end of Wolves, I would’ve run out and read all the volumes posthaste! Truly an important moment in the Dark Tower mythology (if not most of King’s milieu since so many of his stories tangentially relate to the mythos).

Frank Church
- Friday, December 5 2003 12:50:40

I almost shit my pants. My little bit of spew on Chaos Theory, is the last sentence in Harlan's piece. You worked that one in quite well Harlan. And your point about the subject was dead on: no chance, no buggaboo's in the night; you either walk forward and explore, or you get stuck in the swamp.

You all know I had to tell my family and friends about Harlan cribbing from me. They are so proud. They might even talk to me, the next time they see me.

I needed the self esteem boost all. Now back to the shadows in the closet.


I told you all before that most art is subjective; most notably in music. You can always find two very smart individuals who will debate about the merits of various musicians or music forms. All this is murdering a dust mote--kind of meaningless.

Sure, classical takes the most dedication and practice on your instrument to play, but actually writing like Stravinsky is the hard part.

Sure, pop seems simplistic, but when was the last time a song writer wrote a ditty as great as the Stones Satisfaction?

Hell, in its own way, a band like Radiohead, at their best, are as deep as the best symphony or jazz. Sure, it is easier to play, but it is not just about that. It is the vast mystery of the heart, that sings out.

I won't expound on rap, but it is odd, some young black dude, who seems illiterate, can memorize all these lines, and spit them back in perfect cadance. You should see lyric books to most rap albums. Shit's like War And Peace in length. There is creative fire there; you can say it is misused, but it is used.

You cannot compare Jimmy Page with Mozart, or Eddie Van Halen with Gershwin, but they all had the same dedication to their craft. Their music came from a private, holy place.

Esthetic truisms still apply: Sure, Kenny G. is shit compared to Duke Ellington, but what about Frank Zappa compared to Morricone? There, it just works with taste. No way you can prove either one is better, or worse. I would prefer Morricone, but that's me.


I liked Runaway Jury, the movie, but look at the plot, Harlan's rant about Grisham is obvious in that film: Yea, there is a secret cabal that controls how Jury's are selected; and they watch the trial on plasma televisions in a bunker. Nutty, black helicopter crap. Thankfully, the film was at least fun. But, who would want to slog through the book?

Joel McLemore
- Friday, December 5 2003 12:46:19

Actually, I think THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE could be a decent remake if it were done right [which rarely happens.] I could see it updated to current times, with Al-Quaida instead of the communists. But....I'm sure they'll just turn it into a mundane action film.

Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL - Friday, December 5 2003 11:44:37

Captain of Fate


Extremely cool essay.

- Friday, December 5 2003 10:38:10

The Hollywood Renaissance
Put away your reading because the geniuses of Hollywood are at work on a new watershed movie, truly long overdue...


Yeah. We need that. We need it real bad.

Greg H.
Alpena, MI, - Friday, December 5 2003 9:19:54

Cookie: good observations, but a more telling rendition is: How many guitarists does it take to change a light bulb? A: 25. One to do it and 24 others to stand around and say "I could do that". Gotta go, sounds like Rush is on the dope again.

Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Friday, December 5 2003 9:19:53

Dark Tower Tick-Tock Man...
I noticed, when I reread the DARK TOWER books over the summer, that the Tick-Tock Man lives in a city where a crazed cumputer has taken over. Considering how many other literary references (Shardik, Edgar Allen Poe when Jake goes into the house, etc) there are throughout the DARK TOWER books, I'm convinced this is a nod to Mr. Ellison.


TEXAS - Friday, December 5 2003 8:28:47

I am going to read Anthony Boucher, John Dickson Carr and Ellin now.

I stand by my assessment of A Time To Kill--while acknowledging that you are correct in your assessment of the remainder of his body of work. If only he'd stretch to use the amazing length of stride he exhibited in A Time To Kill. Sadly, I'd say he's learned ( to the detrement of his art and our misfortune) that he has the ability to spin straw into gold without the effort or emotion it would take to build another book like A Time To Kill. I guess you'd say I'm a fan of A Time To Kill.

Can y'all tell?

Hey Paula!
A broken clock is right twice a day? I LOVE THAT!!! It's so much classier than what we say down here, " even a blind hog'll find an acorn."
You are infinitely more qualified to judge than I, but do you not think A Time To Kill was a beautiful thing? Lofty even?

yer pal,

Hey Rita?
That looked like a slammin' to you?
You need to hang around here awhile.You don't KNOW what a slamming is until you've seen the man work one. He'll put something on you that BABO won't take off. When he's ACTUALLY slammin' somebody you'll find out what it's like to try to read a computer monitor through your fingers. That Grisham stuff was quite sweet.


- Friday, December 5 2003 7:59:54

Chaotic Ellison
Go now,


Read, enjoy.

Then click on the "Complete Chaos" link, where they say: "The irascible Harlan Ellison declares, “There is no such thing as chance, only patterns we do not understand.” Do you agree? Disagree? Here’s your chance to sound off."

Melissa Reeston
- Friday, December 5 2003 7:57:1

Odd that this should come up:

I'd recommend a book I've just finished: "Literary Feuds", by Anthony Arthur. It's a very good look at the nature of literary rivalries, from Mark Twain's spat with Bret Harte to the running fight between Gore Vidal and Truman Capote. Fortunately, Arthur doesn't stoop to gossipy sniggering about the antagonists, rather keeping the tone high-brow, allowing the bon mots and savage criticisms of one artist to another show how well an intellect can defend itself while under critical attack.

I loved the Vidal quote on the death of Capote: "A good career move".

Back to work, Melissa

Ypsilanti, MI - Friday, December 5 2003 6:55:15

oh yeah...
pardon my previous generalizations. While I can't cite a specific paper, I'd bet dollars to donuts that if you mention Thomas Kinkaide to a visual artist of any stripe you'll get an earful. He is the Kenny G of that world, despised and feared.

Yspilanti, MI - Friday, December 5 2003 6:45:28

what's wrong with bashing?
Re: rita's comment. Cookie's got it - artists do this to one another all the time. Music's been mentioned, but think visual artists, too: abstractionist vs. realists, commercial artists vs. folk art, college art students vs. well... anyone. None of these groups are particularly kind to one another. If you're feeling generous you can label what they do 'criticism', but IMHO that requires more openmindedness than is usually present.

Can't we all just get along? No. Defense of subjective qualities becomes more intense when any mook can pick up a brush, a pen, a mic, (etc) and call themselves an artist. The lovey-dovey bits of me say there's nothing wrong with this freedom, but then I'm thinking of hobby art. That's great. But when dollar values start getting assigned, when the media is sown to the masses, then there needs to be a conscious review by the Good and the Wise (all present here, no doubt) of the aesthetics that are being developed. And if something can't justify itself, then take the piss out of it and feel good about doing it.

Because, hell, it's not going to keep them from getting published, displayed, or produced.

ps, cookie: ayuh. I was up north of you, around Union; then the Bangor area, deah. Now I'm just From Away.

- Friday, December 5 2003 5:40:15

"[The Shining] is not a movie of Stephen King's book."
I agree wholeheartedly and I think King's feelings that the movie didn't do the book justice was the catalyst for wanting to do the so-so miniseries.

And your DARK TOWER question was one I was thinking about, too, when I was re-reading prior to the fifth volume of the series. Enquiring minds want to know.

I saw no "bashing" in HE's comments concerning Grisham (but, maybe that's because I share the same opinion, so whatta I know?) and I'm a little perplexed concerning your comments about "not used to seeing writers slamming other living writers"??? Pick up the NY Times Review of Books. Go to a writer's conference. Or a workshop. Or, the most recent National Book Awards event where Hazard dissed King. And I guarantee you that there is a violinist out there who fuckin' hates Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix and would gladly tell the world if someone really cared what a violinist thought about a guitar player. Frank! Tell Rita about the shit that goes on in the hip-hop world.

And Turow is a much better writer than Grisham. As far as lawyers go. Though, I guess if you like the non-fiction lawyers, Posner would be the way to go.

OOOOOHHH-OOOOOHHH, ATC, you mentioned a short story you read by Clark being ridiculous...I recently read something by her in some anthology and it was the worst worst piece of shit crap fucking lazy-ass writing I had seen in awhile. I had never read anything by her until then and I find no reason to seek out her other work. It was about some knucklehead living in the apartment or condo or townhouse or something next door to a lady and he breaks into her laundry room and that was his MO for doing this serial killing shit....Ohmigod, utter waste of time. (I'm very angry about this, because it was in a Block anthology and I would've thought they could've come up with something better. Maybe Block lost a bet or something.)

- Friday, December 5 2003 5:18:2

Rita said:"I don't see parallels in the other arts, like violinists slamming rock guitar players, etc."

You apparently missed Pat Metheny's scathing criticism of Kenny G. which appeared a couple of years ago. It is still circulated widely among jazz musicians. Of course, Metheny was preaching to the choir.

Music is one of the worst professions for bad-mouthing. How many sopranos does it take to screw in a light-bulb? Ten: one to screw in the lightbulb and 9 to claim they could have done it better.And yes, musicians of one genre will make disparaging remarks about music of another genre. All the time. Every day. Just hang out on a couple music BBS's and you'll definitely see it.

BTW: I don't think it's "wrong" to criticize another artist's (or writer's) work even if they do the same kind of work. Yes, artists should support each other, but not at the expense of accepting all works as equally worthy.

" Grisham may write badly, but he brings people into the bookstores, so it seems that all writers with books on the shelves can indirectly profit from his success."

This is like saying that people who walk into a record store to buy Kid Rock's latest might, just might, pick up a recording of Bill Evans or of something like the Golijov Passion just because Kid Rock got them into the store. I'm not saying it isn't possible, just that it's highly unlikely.

Not saying that Grisham shouldn't write or that folks shouldn't enjoy his books if they do. But I think it's fine to point out reasons *why* one might *not* enjoy (or even respect) Grisham's writing. Different strokes for different folks---including the patron author here. He's welcome to his informed opinion and others are free to disagree. But I personally disagree that it's wrong for artists to "bash" another of their trade. The "bashing" is often a mere expression of how one artist would never want to write, play, paint or dance in the "bashee's" manner.

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Friday, December 5 2003 4:45:17

King's Speech
Okay, I read King's speech, and he does not praise Clancy or Mary Higgins Clark at all; the sentence in question scolds those members of the lit establishment who make a point of saying they never read popular folks like same. (Incidentally, I recall enjoying a couple of Clark's earliest books, a long long time ago...though a short story I recently heard by her was the most ridiculous thing I'd encountered in many years.)

His actual praise goes to "Elmore Leonard, Peter Straub, Nora Lofts, Jack Ketchum, whose real name is Dallas Mayr, Jodi Picoult, Greg Iles, John Grisham, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connolly, Pete Hamill and a dozen more."

A perfectly respectable group, even if you disagree with one or two names on it. (Grisham in particular seems to push the revulsion buttons.) Certainly, Lehane's MYSTIC RIVER and Ketchum's terrifying THE GIRL NEXT DOOR have a lot more to say about what drives the human animal than the average book about philandering college professors or depressed suburbanites bemoaning the pointlesness of everything while wandering through supermarket aisles. A-TC

John Thompson
- Friday, December 5 2003 0:47:22

Just read the King speech and found it pretty admirable. I was happy to see he gave just due to Peter Straub and Jack Ketchum.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Thursday, December 4 2003 23:32:42

David Hemmings!

Blow Up was a important film for me. I am thus saddened by the loss of David Hemmings.

Also, if you guys really want to read something other than Grisham, read the stories of Cortazar.

Steve Dooner

Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Thursday, December 4 2003 22:33:14

Stanley Ellin / King
Have never gotten around to the mystery novels of Boucher or Carr, but Ellin is terrific. And for a prime example of a dangerous vision, check out Ellin's THE DARK FANTASTIC. A hefty portion of that book is written from the point of view of Charles Witter Kirwan; dying of cancer and blaming the blacks for the deterioration of the school in which he taught, the neighborhood in which he lives, and the building next door which he owns and rents to them, he intends to blow up the building with himself and most of the tenants inside it. Unlike Archie Bunker, who proved himself an idiot every time he opened his mouth, Kirwan is intelligent, articulate, and horrifyingly persuasive -- persuasive to the point where you think "Yeah, I can see that -- Jesus, what am I thinking?" while reading his portions. Scary as hell.

And his short fiction is a must.

One caveat--Ellin's last novel, VERY OLD MONEY, was reprinted in paperback and the reprint I saw left off the last page of the original hardcover source. It's just a couple of paragraphs, but those paragraphs give a nice ironic chill to the story and you don't want to be without them. If you start scrounging for Ellin in the used book shops, look for the hardcover on this one. Or buy the paperback, borrow the hardbound from the library, and copy the last paragraphs into your pb.

King's speech -- struck me when I saw it that Grisham, Clancy & Clark were used more as examples of writers dismissed because they sell rather than as high points of contemporary popular lit. He did include Grisham in his later list with Straub & Leonard et. al., though, and as I recall he referred to Grisham in ON WRITING, saying that Grisham knew his law firm backgrounds so well that you had to believe them.

And it was great to see the tribute paid to Tabitha King; she's a terrific writer herself, and it's a shame that so much of her work is out of print and that her novel THE SKY IN THE WATER (listed in SK's ON WRITING appendix) hasn't found a publisher yet.

Bests to all,


Rita Mincer
- Thursday, December 4 2003 21:13:43

writers bashing writers
Interesting comments by Mr. Ellison on Grisham...I'm not used to seeing writers slamming other living writers. I don't see parallels in the other arts, like violinists slamming rock guitar players, etc.

Grisham may write badly, but he brings people into the bookstores, so it seems that all writers with books on the shelves can indirectly profit from his success.

P.A. Berman
- Thursday, December 4 2003 20:47:50

Dorie: Didn't mean to ignore your question yesterday. I am from Ithaca and currently in Ithaca, but wasn't posting from Ithaca until September of this year. cookie is from Ithaca. Does that answer your question?

rich: Thanks for the link to King's speech.

::dons asbestos suit::

I wonder if the reason why he hated Kubrick's rendition of The Shining was the fact that it wasn't "true." Jack wasn't mad from Day One, only vulnerable to madness, and because of changes in the story, Kubrick's version doesn't unfold in the horrifyingly organic way that King's novel does. That's been my point all along, and though I love Kubrick's movie, it's not a movie of Stephen King's book.

::removes asbestos suit, hopes rabid Kubrickites have been taking their medication::

It's also wonderful to see how much he loves his wife.

Is Peter Straub really not considered "literary fiction"? At his best he's as anyone. Go out and read his books and see if I'm not right. Is horror just not considered a "literary" genre? Do you have to be dead to be taken into the canon as a horror writer?

DARK TOWER QUESTION: Did King borrow The Tick-Tock Man from Harlan? Did they ever discuss it?

Frank: I enjoyed Secretary enormously, but the part where the media got involved strained my willing suspension of disbelief. In spite of that, huge thumbs up.

Cindy: I read A TIME TO KILL and enjoyed it, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. However, you and Mr. King are more than entitled to your opinions.


Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Thursday, December 4 2003 19:27:58

Add my positive vote to "Secretary," but only if you "get" the ending, which is not quite as single-mindedly happy as some of its audiences believe; there's a subtle point to the final, complex expression on Gyllenhaal's face.

I get all the Grisham and Clancy I want from the movies based on their books; I know that's a mug's game (as most of the movies based on Westlake wouldn't tempt me to investigate that worthy, either), but I honestly don't get any sense of there being any more "there" there. When my thriller-buying dollar can get me Stephen Hunter (!), or Michael Marshall, or Greg Rucka, or whatsisface the guy who wrote THE HANCOCK BOYS and THE CARETAKER, or Ken Follett, or Ed McBain, or Tim Dorsey or Carl Hiassen, or any number of non-brand names providing fascinating work, the works of Grisham and Clancy and Cussler, which I've absorbed by mass-media osmosis, just don't attract. I will confess to wanting to read Grisham's A PAINTED HOUSE, but only because it's reputedly a very non-formula book for him, and I'm curious over whether he pulled it off.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Thursday, December 4 2003 19:16:45

I second Deb's thumb's down on Secretary, and not just because she is my lovely spouse. I looked forward to this movie for quite awhile, but when I finally saw it I was disappointed by the small-movie hype. Sometimes I think reviewers just want to love a small film with a quirky premise to look cool to peers and readers/viewers.

Spader was good. The movie did not inspire.


Aron Devin
- Thursday, December 4 2003 17:56:52

Dear Harlan,

Would you mind settling a bet between a friend and I? It concerns your short story from Deathbird Stories called "At The Mouse Circus." We have a six-pack of Sam Adams riding on the wager. I have my own idea as to what the story is about and my other friend has her's. Would you mind giving just a brief explanation? In fear of swaying your potential reply to my side, I'll keep my explication to myself. Something succinct will suffice. Just a clue, even, in the right direction as to the story's origin and/or theme would be greatly appreciated .
There's great scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are standing in line at a theater and this guy behind them is "loudly pontificating" about Marshall McLuhan (sp?) and really annoying Woody's character. He thinks the guy is full of shit and wishes he would shut up. You know the rest, Woody pulls the real Mcluhan out from behind a poster where the educator begins to berate the poor guy for knowing absolutely nothing about his work.
It is in light of this scene I make this humble request: be my Mcluhan. Will ya'? Huh Unca' Harlan? Puhleeeez...


- Thursday, December 4 2003 17:32:43

Grisham: impossible plots, jerry-rigged logic, forced incidents, flat characterization, mundane and bucolic writing, lack of style, mid-section troughs, narrative holes ignored or so blatant that the astute reader could maneuver a Peterbilt through them, conclusions advertised halfway through, contemptible stereotyping, lazy while at the same time arrogant dependance on the low esteem and presumed intellect of his core audience.

I am not a fan.

I wish him no ill, but he isn't a carbuncle on the slowest novel Stanley Ellin ever wrote. Talk to me no "quality of Grisham" till you have read the mystery novels of Anthony Boucher, John Dickson Carr and Ellin, the master of them all. Your taste will realign itself sans screed from me.

Respectfully, Harlan

Infoman <- - (dot) (dot)>
- Thursday, December 4 2003 14:14:58

DAVID (and others): I second (or rather third) the recommendation for "Secretary" (and Glyllenhall's acting). And while talking fine film efforts, on the small screen, Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire" series is fuckin' terrific. I know I'm a Johnny-come-lately for only just figuring this out (after buying the DVD sets in the past year or so), but man...fantastic writing, excellent acting, who could ask for more? The episode entitled "The Body" (which I just watched last night) from the 5th series DVD set is one of the finest tele (or screen)plays to deal with the subject of death and the loss people feel. When Emma Caulfield (as Anya) did her short ramble during the middle of the show, I actually got choked up (something in my eye, I swear). Whedon is an excellent writer and damn fine director. Can't wait to see what he does next (too bad "Firefly" wasn't given a snowball's chance).
-- Yours in opinion this time, the man

David Loftus <dloft59@earthlink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Thursday, December 4 2003 13:39:7


I'm with Frank in recommending "Secretary," which I saw on the big screen with my wife. A nifty little black comedy. Maggie Gyllenhaal turns in an astounding performance.

Az - Thursday, December 4 2003 13:26:45

***Secretary???????????????? You gotta be joking Frank. Swing over to the other place.

Frank Church
- Thursday, December 4 2003 12:51:14

Faisel, I know about Operation Mongoose and the like; but Castro should be judged equally by the left, as he is judged, or misjudged by the loony right.

Jailing of writers just should not be tolerated.

What they need to do is overthrow Casto and put in a true socialist or anarchist government. A real people's party.

The IMF and the neo-liberal goons will salivate once Castro dies. If he ever dies. He may be a demon.


Angels In America is coming soon to HBO; with an all star cast, that includes Al Pacino, as Roy Cohn.

Looks amazing. Two thumbs up on Ebert and the chimp.


If you have never seen it, go rent Secretary; a wicked little black comedy about a woman who gets a job as a secretary, only to find out that the boss is into sado masochism. She turns into his slave, and it ends up with a pretty astounding ending. The premise seems base, but for some reason, it works. It is a deft look at love on the dark margins. Great.

cookie <cookiecoogan@yahoo.com>
- Thursday, December 4 2003 10:39:39

Elijah: I totally relate to your comments about King being close to your heart as someone who grew up in Maine. Yeah, IT was particularly creepy---especially the part about the Chinese restaurant by the Bangor Mall. I've eaten there many times (but there were no eyeballs in the fortune cookies). Anyway, I *do* recognize many of the places. Everybody seems to hate TOMMYKNOCKERS (which I didn't hate so much), but I got a thrill out of the fact that rtes. 202 and 9 were mentioned because that's in my hometown (Albion) so all the time I'm reading the book, I'm thinking of aliens landing near my hometown!

And yes, King's example of success after initial struggle is something that inspires and gives hope to the little girl who grew up poor in the boonies of Maine: with talent and effort and support, it IS possible to achieve something beyond ending up in the paper mill or driving a wood truck or operating a skidder.

Thanks for the link to the text of the speech (now that I'm over on this window, I forget exactly who it was who provided the link. Forgive me for forgetting, but thanks for the link). I'll go check it out at my leisure.

Joel McLemore
- Thursday, December 4 2003 9:48:23

I have read [or at least listened to on tape] a lot of Grisham. I don't remember A TIME TO KILL very well, though I think it played to the emotions more with its subject matter [race, rape, and revenge] That doesn't necessarily make Grisham a good writer, it just means he's able to use disturbing subject matter to manipulate the reader. He is at least good enough that I never gave up on any of his books, and that's something.

The problem is that Grisham writes about what is supposedly the "real" world, but it seems less real than the world that Stephen King writes about. I've had a lot harder time suspending disbelief with Grisham than I ever have with King. King's bloodsucking vampires seem more realistic than Grisham's bloodsucking attorneys. And I think that's a sign that Grisham isn't a very good writer, where King is a great writer. Grisham's writing just doesn't ring true.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Thursday, December 4 2003 9:30:33

Several items of mild interest.

First of all, American liberals have no reason to apologize for Cuba. For one thing, liberals were the ones who'd started that covert war against Castro: remember that just about all of those harebrained schemes to take the Beard out came out of the Kennedy and Eisenhower administrations, neither of which could be considered terribly leftist or even right-wing.

And the issue of comparative misery is a tricky one to play. For one thing, we don't really know how bad Cuba'd be if Castro had failed. The best evidence is that it'd be another death-squad hellhole that'd enjoyed lots of U.S. funding, but that's not exactly certain. And if we're going to say that Cuba's better off under Castro than the alternative, then we may have to consider that the invasion of Iraq may have been an improvement over Saddam Hussein.

Not much to add about Stephen King, either. Lovely speech that did get some whisper-down-the-lane distortion. I ought to mention one thing. King mentioned that there were people who said with pride that they hadn't read anything by certain popular writers, like John Grisham. I haven't read anything by any of those writers. But that's not because I think they're bad writers. (After all, if I haven't read them, how would I know?) It's because I just have too many other things on my plate. For the record, I haven't managed to read any of Martin Amis's novels, and Marcel Prous still remains Unread by Brian, so it's not a matter of snobbery. But I really ought to give Grisham a try. For all I know, the guy could be John D. MacDonald reborn.

Actually, one thing I like about a lot of "popular fiction" writers is that they are more likely to describe how things work in the Real World. Take John D. MacDonald's _Condomunium_, which was a best-seller back in the 1970s. About a quarter into the book, MacDonald follows a retired engineer who examins the foundations of his high-rise condo, and finds all kinds of flaws and sub-par materials. MacDonald manages to give the reader a sense of the actual, technical issues involved with construction... which adds a _lot_ to the growing terror of the approaching hurricane.

TEXAS - Thursday, December 4 2003 8:40:4

No Frank,
Not surprised a whit. The bead on your "welded" mind is utterly faux. You've insight that can not co-exist with unfounded dogma. So, while your ship lists very seriously (and oft-times disturbingly )to port I've seen the gentle swell of logic tip you starboard.

There's vast hope for you mine darklink.

You hang in there-- you know what you have in you and it won't be long that others will know it too.


AS FOR THOSE OF YOU who feel comfortable disregarding Grisham, who do not not see him as a gifted man capable of producing books of consequence-- go find a copy of A Time To Kill, then come back here and tell me the man can't write. The quality of this book calls you either ill informed or devoid of the ability to know a work of art when it smacks you up side the head ( as we say in the South).

John Grisham has produced at least ( this ) one pearl of literary brilliance and I fuckin' DEFY you to say otherwise.

Yeah, THAT'S a gauntlet.


Elijah <elijahnewton@yahoo.com>
Ypsilanti, MI - Thursday, December 4 2003 7:53:28

King, but also with regard to Ellison...
That's a neat speech, many thanks to rich for supplying the link that let me read it. Steven King is a hometown hero for me: I grew up in Maine and attended the high school at which he had taught, though I was a dozen-plus years too late to be in any class of his.

Because of the geographic closeness, I tend to read his stories trying to pick out influences I recognize. (yah yah, I just read them for pleasure the first time through, but I'm a chronic re-reader, blah blah blah) Some instances are simple enough - "It" has all the corny fun of a Decoder Ring if you're familiar with the Bangor, ME area. And many common traits of his main characters correlate with my apocryphal knowledge of Mr. King hisself.

But whether it's an escape into the improbable and ghoulish or a more reasonably character driven bits and I keep coming back to a couple questions. How much is drawn from personal experience? How much is purely invented? It's embarassing to say that I do this to justify burgeoning habits in my own writing when I'm uncertain of their virtue ...but that's exactly what's happening. I'm not interested in becoming a mimic, but I find myself wondering if I'm slacking off when I should be flexing muscles of recall or, alternately, invention. Do writers lie by nature, or is it all metaphor and reinterpretation of the day-to-day realities? If you don't want to sully the board with a reply, please consider yourself invited to email a response directly to: elijahnewton "at" yahoo.com

Jay Smith
- Thursday, December 4 2003 6:42:20

King's Speech
King's speech struck me for a very different reason.

It restored hope. His pre-Carrie situation mirrors my own. I know of his battle with alcoholism and the rage and frustration of living hand-to-mouth while trying to hold on to what most people regard as a useless pastime or fantasy. While I can't say that I'm slave to alcohol, I see the same path before me. These days, it's Hope and Struggle.

Give it up and you die.

And it reminds me how much I owe to Pam for surviving these days, helping me secure these aspirations in the way some cling to their faith in God.

- Thursday, December 4 2003 5:13:46

Here is what King said during his NBA award speech (no, not the speech concerning the Celtics trade earlier this season---the other NBA speech):


And if you never thought King was a quote good guy unquote, this speech should dispel that notion. Some very good lines in that speech and the speech really is about one thing and one thing only: giving his wife her due. Yes, he does mention the three-headed dog Cerberus (Grisham, Clancy, Clark), but makes no mention of their quality---except he does mention Grisham along with some others as far as quality goes. But, Grisham is King's opinion and although I don't like Grisham I think one of the best and worst novels I've ever read was The Pelican Brief.

King does single out Ketchum and Straub. You'll see the others as you read (or, listen or watch) the speech.

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Thursday, December 4 2003 5:5:29

- -
King did use some bad examples in his speech, I believe, but his overall point, that the critical establishment penalizes some writers simply for being popular and accessible, remains sound. As I believe I've said here before, the John Irving / John Updike attack on Tom Wolfe was downright disgusting.

There are thriller writers, right now, whose line-by-line prose, and whose portrayal of the world, is better than any of the self-absorbed, no-plot literary types.

Although there are many, many other possible examples -- I am specifically thinking of THE AX by Donald Westlake.

John Thompson
- Wednesday, December 3 2003 22:54:41

John K.:

"Repent Harlequin, Said The Tick-Tock Man" is another good example of a story that doesn't age because it addresses fundamental human concerns. That is why it is constantly in print.

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Wednesday, December 3 2003 20:30:4

John Thompson,

I guess the syntax more than anything threw me off.

Some popular novels last. Dickens was huge. Twain. Others. You could argue that their works didn't fit the cultural norms, or whatever, and you may be right about that.

But popularity isn't a good litmus test either way. Some popular things suck, some unpopular things rule. And vv.

John Thompson
- Wednesday, December 3 2003 18:36:1

John K: I don't understand why you found it strange that popular novels that are too much of their time tend not to last. Look at PEYTON PLACE or the works of Edgar Wallace. The works that have lasted transcend their time period. As much as I love most of Stephen King's work, he often makes references to things future generations will only puzzle over (Take THE DARK HALF, for instance, which mentions Axl Rose; if history is kind, and I think it will be in this respect, no one will remember this talentless screecher.)

Joel McLemore
- Wednesday, December 3 2003 16:57:51

I'm guessing it's as John K said, that King wants to encourage the "academic writing" establishment to not insulate themselves from the world of popular fiction, but I'm basing that solely on what people have said here about his speech.

Never really been able to get into King's DARK TOWER series--perhaps I should try it again. I lost patience with it when he released one volume that was just a big, long flashback, and if I remember right at the end of the book they were in the exact same situation they'd been in at the beginning. They're better than King's forays into science fiction [assuming you consider THE TOMMYKNOCKERS and DREAMCATCHER as such] but it hasn't worked for me so far.

My favorites are probably his short stories...love his non-fiction writing as well. There are more than a few of his novels that I love too, but my wife is saying I gotta go now...

P.A. Berman
- Wednesday, December 3 2003 15:43:55

Why do folks thing King mentioned Grisham, Clark, et al? Does he really think they are his peers and deserve greater recognition as artists?

HE mentioned Peter Straub--a favorite of mine with a new book out. Anyone read _lost boy/lost girl_ yet? I am excited to get my hands on it, as it has Tim Underhill and Tom Pasmore in it and takes place in the dreaded Millhaven.

FAQ: Great to see your name!


Manchester, UK - Wednesday, December 3 2003 15:25:22


Cuba's history of human rights violations is not as grim as those sanctioned by the Goverment of other South American neighbours (El Salvador, Columbia, Nicaragua) whose corrupt goverments have enjoyed strong support from successive US administrations (well, apart from Nicaragua when Oliver's Army murdurously came a calling while the Sandanista's were in charge...).

This is not to justify Cuba's human rights history after the revolution (i.e. towards Castros political opponents like the writer you mentioned, homosexuals, AIDS victims, etc) but tarring all "liberals" as defenders of Castro is disingenious. After my first visit there, I feel that a lot of the human rights issues could have been resolved had the US sanctions not been implemented.

Believe me, it could easily have become a complete tolitarian Police state like Saudi Arabia, its to the people's credit that it hasn't. Unfortunately, continued US goverment and intelligence activity could push it towards that route.

Incidentally, the father of a friend of mine was a diplomat for the Ugandan goverment and he had strong personal relations with Castro. I was told about Castro's support for African counteries that wanted to become more self reliant then be forever in debt to European/US power and him sending over troops to stop the South Africans crossing over into Angola.

I think Chomsky talked about this in a recent interview in Counterpunch.


Teak <enrightt@law.utah.edu>
- Wednesday, December 3 2003 14:15:3

Gimmie a break, Frank. Liberals don't apologize for Castro; they just point out that the repression there is a lot less than in US-supported countries. In Nicaragua they'd blow up your press. In El Salvador they'd leave a head on a pike as a warning. Putting people in jail for dissent is shouldn't be foreign to anyone who knows American History. Pretending all repression is the same is to ignore the serious human consequences of foreign policy.

Frank Church
- Wednesday, December 3 2003 13:29:35

At the same book award King was at, this writer from Cuba talked about how there are writers who are jailed in Cuba for merely writing a book. If this is true, then some of the hapless liberal types who say good things about Castro have a bit of explaining to do.

See Cindy, I have my moments. Shocked?

No Todd, I haven't embraced the dark side just yet.

David Loftus <dloft59@earthlink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Wednesday, December 3 2003 13:25:56

fabulous fantasy

> Bradbury said that he was going to the moon, Mars and
> the stars and would she like to come along and she said
> yes. And that was the greatest yes Bradbury ever received.

Not only that, but he kept his promise!

I read my first Philip Pullman book last weekend -- _The Golden Compass_ -- and was quite blown away.

AZ - Wednesday, December 3 2003 11:43:58

***In " Electronic Gaming Monthly " they were reviewing the game, Legacy of Kain: Defiance. The subtitle was " I have no jaw, and I must scream. " In relation to the game, you'd have to be a gamer to get it. But never the less, a neat play on a Ellison title. Never would have expected that in such a magazine!

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Wednesday, December 3 2003 8:17:53

Ben: Now that you have The Nightmare Before Christmas on DVD, try watching it with the language option set to French: it becomes this bizarre existential art house film and it's fall-on-the-floor hilarious.


- Wednesday, December 3 2003 7:33:50

This is Halloween, this is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween...
I purchased THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS on DVD yesterday, in order to have a properly "Holiday-orientated" movie to celebrate on Christmas day. Although I usually don't care much for Tim Burton's output, the marvellous character designs and magnificent stop-motion animation are just too good to turn down. (I'm not making an effort to sound like a video cover-quote. The stop-motion IS f***ing magnificent.)

Dorie Jennings
- Wednesday, December 3 2003 7:6:24

Harlan: fair enough, and thanks for that. For an enfant terrible, you're très raisonnable ;)

Lee: UPS tracker says the magic drink powder should be here any minute, and I shall post it on to you straightaway. With hopes that you'll be spared the flu for the rest of winter!

P.A.B.: I went back and read the archives....looks like I missed some good bits earlier in the year! Remind me please, are you the contributor who lives in Ithaca?

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Wednesday, December 3 2003 4:47:55

Since Straczynski offered nothing but a teaser, saying he couldn't offer additional details til January 15th, I would presume, at the very least, that Harlan wouldn't be able to be any more forthcoming on his own. ATC

Jay Smith
- Tuesday, December 2 2003 21:6:45

Return of Babylon 5?
JMS comments, sorta, here...


Harlan, any comment on involvement?

TEXAS - Tuesday, December 2 2003 19:57:25

Raiza! Yes! That's right.

In Nancy-speak I believe it's prounced (with a rolling "r") "Rooskybitch".

yer pal,

California - Tuesday, December 2 2003 19:52:54

Harlan: Speaking of the almighty bridge, in the event that no one else here has mentioned it, I wanted to thank you for your repeated recommendations of John P. Marquand. I had read something of yours about a year ago in which you had mentioned THE LATE GEORGE APLEY. Based upon that and an article by Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post (sorry, doc, had to get a second opinion), I decided to check the tome out. Sure enough, I was floored by Marquand's razor-sharp prose, marveling over how Marquand had wheeled in a momentous Trojan horse into the complacent American castle. Since then, I've read somewhere in the area of ten books of his, including the shaky MR. MOTO series (although those books had the effrontery to throw in a few self-doubting expatriates into pulp spy thrillers), with more in my bookpile, along with Milicent Bell's biography. Even managed to spread the gospel among a few used bookstore clerks, one of whom is going out of her way to keep some Marquand in stock. I was saddened by Thomas Harrow's remarkable cluelessness, moved to shout "You motherfucking idiot!" in public over the events of POINT OF NO RETURN, and, with SINCERELY WILLIS WAYDE (my favorite of the bunch and, oddly enough, one of the few that didn't employ Marquand's time-honored flashback), I was devastated for days at Willis Wayde's despicable transformation.

That Marquand continues to be overlooked is nothing less than criminal. He's one of the few authors I've read that's skewered institutions without mocking the troubled plights of his protagonists. Truly the harder road to travel. His characters are all too human in the foolish decisions they make. His married couples are astutely observed, steeped in the worst of compromises. Remarkably, Marquand was criticized for chronicling flatline heroes, but I can't think of another author that's dared to display the harsh undertow of comfy middle class life quite like him. Too many people trundle through life without even the inkling of an inner revelation. And the delicate decision of whether to watch haplessly as someone destroys herself or to intervene and scare them straight becomes a tricky ethical tightrope.

In an age where a LA STRADA reject reigns in Sacramento, and the rich are rewarded with sweeping tax cuts, Marquand's tales of upward mobility at tremendous personal costs are perhaps more pertinent now than the 40s and 50s. To my knowledge, only one of Marquand's books remains in print (POINT OF NO RETURN). THE LATE GEORGE APLEY is being reissued in April -- but probably only because it's a Pulitzer winner.

Marquand, a man who was one of the most popular writers of his day, appears doomed for extinction. But I'm glad I caught him, thanks in large part to your plaudits, before he was truly impossible to track down.

If for whatever reason you may have considered that some of us weren't listening about Marquand (whom you've mentioned a lot these days), know that at least one of your readers is listening. Thanks again for spreading the word.

For those here who might need additional proof, and someone who can express Marquand's importance better than I can, here's a link to the Yardley article I mentioned:


Marquand was one of the greatest examples of someone snubbed by the literary elite precisely BECAUSE he did hack work. And now only a miraculous rave by Oprah or a hit movie adaptation (neither of them likely at this point) will probably save him from the dead. We are all the lesser because of it.

- Tuesday, December 2 2003 16:24:34

DORIE: I was in a bad mood. It only occurred to me after the posting to Mr. Walsh -- long after -- that he'd probably never seen a copy of RABBIT HOLE, thus the "rookie" query. As it turned out, that was precisely the case, and Mr. Walsh's properly ironic response was more than evenhanded. I was in a bad mood. I wish my excuse were deeper and more profound, but it was just a weary day, and, well, I was in a bad mood.

Maggie Bradury was a delightful woman. Elegant, graceful, wise, and patient. I spoke to Ray yesterday, and he's holding up well. It came as a severe shock to those of us who are close personal friends of Ray and Maggie, her leaving first. Though she has been fragile for some longish while, Ray's recent health problems seemed more imminent of, well, closure. So we've been looking to the left, when suddenly the strike came from the right. She was a superior person, and her leaving is oh so very saddening.

CINDY: Mrs. Gorbachev's first name was Raiza.

Like a number of you, Stephen's acceptance speech left me ambivalent. He was being mannered and careful when he spoke of stick-up-the-ass Bloom-style pedants. Very "Late George Apley" (as John P. Marquqnd would put it). I thought his "bridge" metaphor apt and worthy. Carefully selected and nuanced. But because he is a kind man, and a giving man, he extended his largesse to people who aren't fit to carry his pencil case. Naming three dreadful, simply dreadful, writers like Clancy, Grisham, and Clark, was a disservice both to his believability and to the valid discourse he was trying to start. It was precisely the sort of pandering to the lummoxes of which Harold Bloom and the NYReviewOfHoHum have made their case against King and his compadres. He could as easily have used the names Donald E. Westlake, Louis L'Amour, and Octavia Estelle Butler and made the same point...AND been on solid ground.

But I say hurrah for him. He mentioned Peter Straub, Dutch Leonard and a few others wizards of wordplay. On sum, he did okay, I feel, though as I've said above, he's too nice a man to give them what they TRULY deserved by way of ass-kicking.

Respectfully, Harlan

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Tuesday, December 2 2003 15:51:56

Frank Church,

I didn't attend King's speech, and I didn't see it, but I've read synopses and quotes, and am pretty close to 100 percent positive he never suggested Mary Higgins Clark deserves a National Book Award nomination. He said those in attendance should read those writers, to stay in touch with their culture, but not that they deserve the award. Right?

Jay, it was King himself who called his prose the literary equivalent of a Big Mac with fries. So you've got him to blame for those comparisons. I think he's wrong, though; he seems conscious of the prose, and writes well enough, even, at times, quite gracefully.

John Thompson, you make some strange assumptions, including the one that works that "conform to the current cultural dictates" never last. But I agree that style is important, maybe more important than anything, and that Grisham et al. are lacking in style.

I think King's finest works will last. And deserve to. And the fanboy part of me, which is small but there, can't wait to read THE DARK TOWER VII, which will, I think, lay all doubts to rest.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Tuesday, December 2 2003 13:50:28

Finding Time To Read
P.A., a suggestion if you want to catch up on the Dark Tower series and beat those commuter blues:

Audio Books.

Yes, they are expensive, especially since you will want the unabridged audio books (and I do not believe Stephen King offers anything but), but I've purchased my audio books through ebay at some surprisingly low costs. I go to the appropriate section, search for 'unabridged' and then bid away. Thus, an instant time waster of a traffic jam becomes a good chunk of the next chapter of Wizard and Glass.

I just received my unabridged audio of Neal Stephonson's The Diamond Age, and though the retail price on the package was $44.95, I got it for $6 plus shipping.

I commute 32 miles each way, from the way way top of Phoenix to the way way bottom of Phoenix. Naturally, so does everyone else here in the valley. Audio books bring sanity when you are sick of your music and talk radio.


Jon Stover
Canada - Tuesday, December 2 2003 12:53:30

Sorry to hear about Marguerite Bradbury. The poem Bradbury read at her funeral service is on the message board at his website; it's very moving.

Stephen King's recovering from pneumonia right now, though the article I read today said he's off oxygen anyway.

Take care, everybody, Jon

Frank Church
- Tuesday, December 2 2003 12:48:45

My favorite Poe story is Murders In the Rue Morgue, basically because of the surprise jolt of who the killer was, and the sadness at how the ape was mistreated, and the morality play of how man treats nature. It went beyond just a horror ditty.

P.A. Berman
- Tuesday, December 2 2003 11:59:13

When you have a body of work as expansive as King's, it's inevitable that some of it will not make the cut as classic literature worthy of study. I just got The Complete Poe, and lemme tell ya, it's a big ass book with very thin pages, and much of it I'd never heard of or read. It would take years to read it and frankly, not all of it is worth reading except for completists. This is not to say that I won't read it, but I already know some of it is dreck. It's inevitable.

The same is true of King. For every Tommyknockers there's a The Shining or The Stand or Carrie. I'm not sure why being popular should automatically preclude literary merit or critical praise; that seems like sour grapes to me. Why does laboring in obscurity the only way to be respected? I'm glad King is getting some recognition in his own lifetime, but I think he will be canonized, so to speak, by future generations of readers.

On a side note, I've been reading The Dark Tower series for the first time and it's killing me because I really, REALLY want to sit down and gorge myself on it, just read the whole series, short stories and related novels, but I can't b/c of school work. Argh! I wish it were summer! (Also because I sat, stopped dead in traffic, for 1 hour and 40 minutes this morning due to a snow related accident. Needless to say I was massively late for work, which threw my whole day off. Damn lake effect!)


- Tuesday, December 2 2003 11:52:11

Jay and Peter,
Hear, hear.

Peter <writerpo@pacbell.net>
San Jose, CA - Tuesday, December 2 2003 7:47:51

King and Poe
John: comparing "Cask" to Dreamcatcher is like comparing fluffy pancakes to a burnt omelette. How about "Cask" to The Shining, or Cujo, or Bag of Bones? If there is any one truth that most of us here agree on, it's that King isn't batting a thousand with his books, but that doesn't diminish in any way the quality of those works we do hold up as examples of good fiction.

Will King's entire ouvre be read in a hundred years? I sure as hell hope not. I would hate to see a world what inherits Tommyknockers as an example of 20th century literature. But one just has to look at the rest of his corpus of work to realize that despite his occasional stinkers, King's batting average, his accessability, and his style (yes, the man has style, which is what distinguishes him from the real McToads of literature) are worthy of respect and consideration, no matter what the Harold Blooms of the world say.


Jay Smith
- Tuesday, December 2 2003 7:10:49

It seems to me that the whole debate on King hinges on the idea that he is a popular writer. Now, call me a purist, but doesn't the craft break down to the idea of telling a story and its final effect on the reader? If the story itself evokes images, carries the reader along and, in the end, leaves him or her with a sense of a story well told and time well spent...isn't that the core of what we do? I mean, debating the structure and esoteric constructs of the man's prose seems to me to be like judging a film based on its set design. Sure, its important, but does every "good" story have to be based on unconventional word choice or sentence structure?

Many compare King to eating McDonalds instead of something more substantial and healthy. I disagree. When was the last time someone read 700 pages for fun? With King, its like you're having a 700-page conversation with the man as he tells you what happened over coffee or during the long drive from Maine to Ohio. King's gift is that he can create these worlds and not force the reader to think they need some sort of entrance exam to qualify for reading it.

You can open someone's imagination and thought without beating them over the head with truckloads of cross-referenced footnotes. I think the elistist who does't want to see King win in his/her club has spent all their time trying to impress the fuck out of other writers and critics and not enough time just telling stories.

But hey: Mark Twain never gussied up his prose, so I guess his pulpy folksy charm ain't worthy of sittin' with the upper crusties, neither.

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Tuesday, December 2 2003 4:27:28

Sad News
I don't know if any of you have been to the Ray Bradbury website recently, but they are posting on the message board the sad news that Marguerite Bradbury passed away on Nov. 25.

I have a Ray Bradbury video that I like to show my writing classes on occasion and in it, he relates the story of how he proposed to Mageurite. It tuns out her friends were a bit skeptical about her becoming involved with a pulp writer, a man they felt 'was going nowhere.' In response, Bradbury said that he ws going to the moon, Mars and the stars and would she like to come along and she said yes. And that was the greatest yes Bradbury ever received.

Having likewise married a woman who took a chance on a dreamer, I know how special a person like that is and how much joy she brings to my life. Marguerite Bradbury gave Bradbury well over fifty years of that joy.


John Thompson
- Tuesday, December 2 2003 2:14:1

My problem with the writers King recommended is that their writing lacks style. I confess I get tired of sentences like "Peter went to the drugstore." Sometimes, the simplest way of saying something is the best, but an entire book of such sentences?? Plus, they do not encourage their audience to question anything. They conform to the current cultural dictates..and this is why most popular fiction never lasts.

To use an example from a different medium, the best movies, like the work of Kurosawa or Welles, take advantage of the visual medium, creating arresting images that whisper sweetly to the subconscious mind. Language offers the same opportunities. Where is the sheer delight in wordplay? While I admire a lot of King's work, one only has to look at Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" versus, say, Dreamcatcher, to see why Poe's work endures.

People get in the habit of buying certain writers, even when said writers no longer deliver. It explains why people eat at places like McDonald's, stay in deadening relationships and watch sitcoms. We are creature of habit, plagued by routine.

King's speech, I believe, was at least partly motivated by the criticism he's received over the years, some of it fair, some of it unfounded. But a leap into unconscious populism is not the answer.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Monday, December 1 2003 18:54:17

Good Ol Walshy!

Hey Walshy,

I hope that didn't sour you on joining the HERC. It's still a good investment. Good job speaking up for yourself though.

Always a friend,

Steve Dooner

P.A. Berman
- Monday, December 1 2003 16:3:51

Jay: I'm so glad your dad is OK. I treasure my father and know exactly how you feel. Hang in there and keep us updated.

Frank: In spite of your reminder, I missed the Stephen King speech but from what you've said, I have to agree with you. John Grisham and Mary Higgins Clark are beach reading, not art, and I feel like King is demeaning himself if he's placing his work in the same category with theirs. I went through a period where I read a bunch of Grisham, and some of it is quite entertaining, but I don't think it will endure as a classic body of work. But what do I know, I'm just an English teacher, and The Canon can be rather enigmatic. OTOH, I do think that major portions of King's body of work will become Canon, if hasn't happened already, and I'd love to teach a college level class on King someday. Now that would be fun...

Dorie: Far be it for me to defend someone so utterly capable of defending himself, I think Harlan was just messin' around with Walshy, having a bit of fun. You know, the way lion cubs have fun when they take your head in their mouths and shake. No harm intended, but your brain is a bit rattled. Having personally experienced this kind of jocularity from the man HimsElf, I'm tellin' ya, Mark took in it in the spirit in which it was intended, like "Ouch-- ha ha ha!" (And if you think that was julienned, have I got some archives for YOU!)


Joel McLemore
- Monday, December 1 2003 13:57:37

Colmes has always been good to reply to e-mail...he wrote me a couple of times back when I used to listen to his radio show during the early Nineties. He was nervier back then, I think. In many markets he followed Limbaugh and there was a lot of arguing. He loved getting under people's skin. I imagine television has taken a lot of that away.

My Thanksgiving was bad, though not as bad as some other people's. My wife and I both decided that taking my father-in-law to the doctor was a better idea than having to endure hours with the other relatives at our house. So we just let them have the run of the place, and the place was a wreck when we got home.
A gang of circus apes would have made less of a mess. Father-in-law is fine, really just had a cold but his doctor tells him to get checked out anytime he has anything, even things that seem minor. My wife and I both have colds but it's a small price to pay.

My wife got a call back from one of the universities she applied to...this job market being what it is I consider that a good sign but we've yet to hear anything else. Maybe the person is sick, or on vacation. It's nerve wracking.

Frank Church
- Monday, December 1 2003 13:14:32

Gosh, Alan Colmes emailed me. Here is his witty retort:

"My book is doing quite well; get your facts straight.
And if you're any kind of liberal or progressive you'd be more open
Apparently, you like the conservatives you claim to hate."

Rob, I think I just found your soulmate.


Damn, if Steven King didn't piss me off last night.

I was watching his speech at the National Book Awards, and he went off, castigating the throng for not being more open minded, in selecting their book prizes. His idea was that more popular books should be nominated. His picks included, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Mary Higgins Clark and the like. Does Steve actually read that trash? Aim higher, oh bard of the bump in the night.

I like the guy, but damn.

Dorie Jennings
- Monday, December 1 2003 11:53:59

Here I am standing under the tree in the electrical storm...holding a golf club aloft...

Harlan: I'm only an occasional and recent contributor, I freely admit I am not as well-informed and well-read as most of the crowd here, BUT: Mark Walsh there was looking for information. He was asking because he didn't know. I think it was unfair of you to julienne him just for inquiring. No matter how eloquently it was done. OK, none of my business, it obviously didn't bother him, for all I know the two of you are best pals and this is just you joshin' wid him--- but I have to add my two cents anyway.

Mike Jacka
Phoenix, AZ - Monday, December 1 2003 8:20:38

Mrs. Claus By Any Other Name

Cindy and Cookie:

Thanks for the responses. (Apparently I'm not as crazy as my family would like to think. Then again...) The link to the New York Times was perfect for filling in the gaps.

Here's the funny part (as my cousin often says when she is telling a story after having dipped into the nog once too often) - when I first saw the image, I thought it was Harvey Fierstein. Within seconds, my mind changed it to Nathan Lane. (Luckily, the only time I testify against people is when I've been reviewing documents.)

And, based on the article, my guess is that the network decided it was best to go to breaking "news" rather than let Mr. Fierstein/Mrs. Turnblad sing.

Thanks again.

TEXAS - Monday, December 1 2003 6:56:39

Ahhh The Reagans.


I felt a bit guilty for watching-- but figured what the hell, informed minds wanna know.

I'm SO glad that I did!

All the hoopla over the meanness of the script and the acid portrayal of the Reagans-- in PARTICULAR Nancy. CBS pulled the PLUG on this lovely Christmas piece because of the outcry from Reagan supporters.

How silly!

I'm a Reagan supporter and I loved it.

Turns out the film is one of the most wildly amusing things I've seen since Dumb and Dumber. It was like an outstanding Saturday Night Live skit that had an extended life. It was Airplane and Mommie Dearest and I laughed out loud so often that my 15 year old son came to see what was so funny. It was apparently a universal thing as Beau also busted out-- in particular at the Gulag statement made by Nancy to Mrs. Gobechev ( what WAS her first name-- I can't remember- was it Irena or something like that?)

In any case, the writers took great license, going so far as to create dialogue between the President and his wife when no one else was around. The scenes with his top aides and cabinet members were TO DIE FOR. The characterization of Alexander Haig was a scream!

The cherry on the banana split that was The Reagans HAD to have been the writers' take on what preceded the Iran-Contra scandal. I SWEAR the guys hovering over a barely cogent President Reagan's hospital bed trying to get him to pass off on their idea of trading missiles for hostages LOOKED like they belonged in some Disney movie as cartoon villains.

If you haven't seen this you MUST.

Two thumbs up.

p.s. Is anyone else here addicted to Larry David's show Curb Your Enthusiasm?

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Monday, December 1 2003 4:6:15

HARLAN: Brain rot? Holy moly, I hope not! Then again, given all the freshman essays I’ve read over the past twelve years, anything is possible. I’ve never seen a copy of The Rabbit Hole, so I wanted to make sure I had my information straight before sending off the check to join up. Dementia? Rookie mistake is more like it.

Nevertheless, apologies for my numbheadedness.

Having been an eyewitness to a drugstore burglary, and having had the robber put away on my identification & testimony, I am

Your chum,

- Monday, December 1 2003 2:11:12

Y'know, the owner of Macy's drowned on the Titanic.

It may be of interest for some people here to know that my feelings toward cops has changed over the last year; maybe the debate about better communication between police and the public has produced an effect or maybe it's me or maybe it's both but I've had radically more pleasant, more mutually diplomatic encounters in the course of the year (not to suggest I've been getting my ass in trouble).
Just thinking out loud after a conversation I had the other night with a really nice officer (we were respecting each other's boundaries since he WAS on duty). In fact, he even got into the political issues a bit even though we had to make it short.
There'll always be bad cops here and there; but what I perceived as a ratio has changed.

- Sunday, November 30 2003 22:46:23

Jay: I'm glad to hear your father pulled through. Whew!!

Mike: Nathan Lane as Mrs. Clause? The NYTimes had an article about how Harvey Fierstein planned to dress as Mrs. Claus. It was a controversial move in Macy's "family parade." The article can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/27/nyregion/27CND-CLAUS.html

Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Sunday, November 30 2003 18:28:15


I have an audition for an acting class coming up where I need a monologue and I wondered if you'd object if I tried a portion of "Prince Myshkin, and Hold the Relish." Particularly the portion where the guy at the hot dog stand tells the story of how some men are just no good for women. I'm trying to find something and I think this would be something interesting. It's at least an option if I have your permission. If not, don't sweat it. I'm still looking.

Thanks for the time,

Alan Coil
- Sunday, November 30 2003 15:44:32


Saw Walter Koenig at Mid-Ohio-Con today. He is looking well.
He said he will be appearing as Scrooge starting this week, I believe. I think he said it would be in Sherman Oaks, but I didn't write it down and it was about 6 hours ago. (Short term memory really crappy due to lack of sleep.)

Back to lurk mode. Bye.

- Sunday, November 30 2003 12:57:32

JAY: As one who lost his father early, I smile at the way things have turned out (so far) for the best. Treasure the treasure, kiddo.

MARK WALSH: Sometimes I cannot believe some of you folks. Truly, no less than dumbfounded. For why, you ask? Here's for why, Mr. Walsh: Since nowhere on the front page of RABBIT HOLE do the words "HERC Newsletter" appear; since the huge name RABBIT HOLE appears on the front page in display type at least TWICE AS BIG as the largest headlines; since there appears on the front page of EVERY ISSUE since we began HERC, a drawing of a rabbit with my face on it; since the mailing is ALWAYS refered to passim the copy as RABBIT HOLE and never, to my recollection, as "the HERC newsletter"; since the title RABBIT HOLE appears in a black, reverse-out block at the top of two of the other pages in the current four-page issue; since the indicia page clearly, always says, "RABBIT HOLE is issued to members of The Harlan Ellison Recording Collection"; and since, happily, you have not previously indicated any pathology either of dementia or advanced tertiary syphilis resulting in blindness or brain-rot, I am driven ineluctably to the conclusion that you need a class in first- or second-grade remedial reading.

Walshy, baby, I would fear for my life if you were the only eye witness at the scene of my alleged crime.

Shaking his head in dismay, but smiling at Jay's good news, I remain, a stranger in a reeeeleeee strange land,

yr. pal,


TEXAS - Sunday, November 30 2003 10:42:23

It wasn't Nathan Lane it was Harvey Fierstien. He's adorable-- even as Mrs. Claus.


Your dad sounds like the sort you should listen to. I'm glad he's home but don't just take one cardiologist's opinion that he's okay. Put them through their paces and make them figure out what caused it. None of this-- "well we think it might be" will do. There are a lot of wonderful doctors but there are a number who are not. The trick is sorting through them.

More unsolicited advice from
your friend,

St. Pete, Fl - Sunday, November 30 2003 8:51:45

Hey Lee, I'm with you re: the elderly. I gained a new respect for our elderly ever since working on a personal project where I've spoken to many persons in their 80's & 90's. One fellow I was talking to about a year ago scared the be-jesus out of me without meaning to. He was talking about one of his buddys from WW2, what good friends they still are, etc., then he said, you know, I don't know what happened to the last 50 years (meaning they just flew by). You had to be there I suppose, but it chilled me to the bone.

mike jacka
Phoenix, AZ - Sunday, November 30 2003 8:44:46

Did I see what I thought I saw?
I'm looking for witnesses to a Thnksgiving event that I'm not sure really happened. I'm hoping someone here can support my story. If not, I will have to listen to my family's constant taunts that I was suffering from a pre-turkey delusional episode.

Our family was kinda watching the Macy's parade. (By that I mean the television was on, it was tuned to the parade, and some of us were watching it some of the time. Just one of those things you - I mean we - have to do on Thanksgiving.) I wandered into the kitchen, glanced back at the tv and, honest, I swear, I saw Nathan Lane dressed as Mrs. Santa Claus. Just about the time I was saying, "Everyone, look at...", they cut away to a special announcement. And what was more important than Mrs. Lanety Claus? Bush going to Baghdad.

Which raises interesting point number 2. Was the network so scared of Mr. Lane that they felt it necessary to yank him from the broadcast in exchange for one of the lamest important, breaking news items I've recently seen? It is an interesting conspiracy theory.

Anyway, if someone can back me on this (the story of Nathan, not the conspiracy - although that would be good, too), it would be greatly appreciated.

- Sunday, November 30 2003 7:55:23

two (,) if

Thanksgiving entropy has destroyed my grammar.


Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Sunday, November 30 2003 7:53:27

I'm confused...
So what else is new? you may say.

Well, I'm confused on this point: is 'The Rabbit Hole' that many of you have mentioned here the same thing as the HERC Newsletter? Or if there is a difference between the two? If someone could enlighten me, I would be thankful.


Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Sunday, November 30 2003 7:4:34


I have a great aunt with slowly failing eyesight. She’s one of those classic octegenarian blue haired ladies that lost her husband decades ago and has been doing very well, thank you very much, ever since. But the eye problem really bothers her because it points the way to the eventual loss of independence that finds everyone that doesn’t go earlier from something sudden. Can you believe that a priest she went to for counselling told her that she should ‘just be thankful she had had a good long life.’? She said she ‘told that jackass that he’d come to the same place quickly enough, and she wondered if he wouldn’t want a few more good days, too, when his time came.’

One of the things that angers me the most about American culture is the lack of respect and empathy that so many of us have for our elderly people. We yell at ‘em like they’re deaf, or honk at them as they try to cross a street, or patronize them in speech, as though they think as slowly as they move. I talk to the elders in my family as often as I can. Talking to an old person is like being in a time machine. They talk to you about delivering groceries with a donkey and cart from a general store, or about how they survived the Great Depression or got lost in the hedgerows during the Allied invasion of France and it’s such a thrill to see their eyes seeing in turn these things and places and events that don’t exist anywhere anymore, except in their heads.

- Sunday, November 30 2003 4:27:2

Thanks everybody.

My dad is 83 and one of the most disquieting things about this whole experience, to me, was that his treatment was approached with the same attitude mechanics give my 175K mile van... "it's made it this far...it don't owe you anything at this point." For a guy who is vibrant and healthy - a mad who looks, feels and acts like a man in his late 60s, this attitude made me angry.

More than that is the fear displayed by my mom - something you just don't see in that woman...ever. It was as though she finally came to realize what's lurking down the darkening hallway.

But he's home and resting. Tests were inconclusive. They think it MIGHT be medicine interaction. It MIGHT be just a fluke. I think they finally sent dad home because his pulse and BP were strong for a full day and he had the strength to ask "when do you think the cardiologist will get the time to get up off his ass and give me a few minutes?"

So the worst has been postponed.

And we celebrate another day together.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Jon Stover
Canada - Saturday, November 29 2003 23:48:33

Jay: Sorry to hear about your father, and I hope he gets better soon.

All (or at least all south of the 49th parallel): I do admire the US for its ability to hold a four-day holiday weekend (unless you're a retail clerk or anyone else who got stuck working on Friday, that is). Canada doesn't seem to be able to advance beyond the three-day stage. Did anyone have turducken?

Cheers, Jon

- Saturday, November 29 2003 5:31:35

Jay's Dad

I'm pleased to hear your dad pulled through. My prayers for him and your family. Here's hoping he's with you for much longer.


- Saturday, November 29 2003 1:22:29

"I have never seen this room so closed minded...the Cat In The Hat...looks quite funny; and Mike Myers looks just like the Cat come to life."


Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
- Friday, November 28 2003 18:15:53


Happy Thanksgiving, and here's hoping your dad is out of the hospital soon. I don't know how long my own dad will be around. At 71, he's lived longer than any man in his family, at least in the last couple or three generations. I'm just glad he's here.

To All:
The best to all your families out there.


Frank Church
- Friday, November 28 2003 12:5:35

Punts each and every turkey carcass off the planet and looks forward to avoiding the stinking bird for at least a few weeks.

Hope noone had any gastoral intestinal episodes yesterday.

Don't ask.


Prick up thine ears: Sunday, at 9pm est. C-Span will be showing the speech by Steven King, when he received the award, that got Harold Bloom all liquored up. Don't blame me if you miss it.


I have never seen this room so closed minded. Sure, the Cat In The Hat is more commercial, sure it doesn't have the spirit of the book, but from the scenes I have seen, it looks quite funny; and Mike Myers looks just like the Cat come to life.

And the commercial tie-ins are rather lame, but you never complained about Spider Man or Lord Of The Rings. See the movie.


Bush going to Iraq is going to stir up more terrorism. I can smell it brewing now. That prick should stay there.

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Friday, November 28 2003 10:39:12

John Thompson,

yeah, I agree! I think the ideal length for a novel is 250-350 pages, somewhere in that range. Gene Wolfe length, Jonathan Carroll length. Updike length. As much as I liked Jonathan Lethem's latest, I think it suffered because of its gigant-o size.

Anne Rice is awful. I haven't made it through any of her books. VIOLIN was the first book I ever gave up on and tossed into a trash can. I have nothing against her, and wish her no plagues or even minor annoyances, but goddamn she's a garbage writer.

Joel McLemore
- Friday, November 28 2003 10:4:1

Anne Rice has written a couple of readable books, but I gave up on her a long time ago.

Haven't read any Straub in a while.

TEXAS - Friday, November 28 2003 8:5:57

Thanks for that post--you brought Thanksgiving into correct focus. I am so happy for you that your Dad is going to be all right. I'll pray for speed in his recovery.

God bless you and yours--- you've blessed me.

Your friend,

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Friday, November 28 2003 7:21:26

French Thanksgiving

France does not celebrate Thanksgiving.

But the local members of the Fugawi Nation (thinking of you Peg!) are going to fry up a few turkeys come Saturday, just to show ‘em how it’s done. Several males in the group have created a fry stand that NASA would be proud of, having apparently scrounged one of the main shuttle engines to use as a burner. We’re all set to fire it up; the women are laughing and the neighbors are edgy.

I spent my actual Thursday getting certified as a Michelin tire design engineer. Me vs. three experts reviewing nine months of supervised design work. I passed, after four hours of oral examination in French. I think this makes me the only professional ballet dancer ever to be certified in tire design. Now I begin six months doing design industrialization and optimisation work, at a high-end facility about 100 km from my family.

I’ve located an old servants quarters to stay in while I’m there. It has sheep.

Baaaa. Baaaa.

Finally, I am happy to announce that after two solid months of sick children, with the occasional sick grown-up tossed in for good measure, my house is certified bug free, except for the mouse, which we’re still trying to catch. From minor ailment to life threatening illness, it comes home time and time again that good health is the cornerstone of a happy life. Happy holiday weekend everyone.

John Thompson
- Friday, November 28 2003 1:43:59

John K: I read "lost boy lost girl" and give it high marks as well. Kind of ironic, since Straub's "Ghost Story" was the last horror novel I enjoyed as much. I loved how concise it was, telling a tight story in less than 300 pages. I think stories were much better written before big doorstop books of 500 pages or more became the norm.

I wonder how readers have the patience for these snoozefests. I recently sampled Anne Rice's Blackwood Farm, encouraged by some positive reviews. Let me tell you, brotha, it will be a long time before I get swayed again. Rice, more than any writer I've ever read, needs an editor. Pages go by and nothing, absolutely nada, happens. The dialogue is worse than an episode of a soap opera, and the characters have no reality, performing ridiculous actions that make no sense. The protagonist is supposed to be a contemporary eighteen-year-old but speaks like a seventeenth-century aristocrat.

I'm thankful we have writers like Straub who actually give a fuck.

- Friday, November 28 2003 1:12:56


The Whitey vis-a-vis Redskins thread was a joke; yours certainly was not. I am so fucking glad your dad pulled through. Hope he can work on the causes to avoid any repeat of the crisis. Unless it proves too personal an issue maybe you can share with us how they diagnose it and treat it.

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Thursday, November 27 2003 22:16:50


I'm glad your dad is still on the planet. The experience must have been awful, but it sounds like it altered your perspective. Reading about it altered mine, too, and, I'm sure, that of other board members. Everything else looks petty next to love and the possibility of death, and rightly so.

For those of you tempted to see THE CAT IN THE HAT, so as to give yourselves more reasons to bitch, let me recommend instead Peter Straub's new novel lost boy lost girl.

I've found that years of reading has dampened the pleasure, as if I'm becoming immune to it and am only reading out of habit or boredom. It's only every five years or so that a book knocks me on my ass and reminds me what literature, at its best, can do. LOLITA was one of those books. MIND FIELDS was one. THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE was one. And lost boy lost girls is one, too; it's so brilliant and moving that I can't articulate what it did to me, except to say that I love it.

Has anyone else read it?

Michael <leftearpro@hotmail.com>
- Thursday, November 27 2003 20:6:1

Hey Jay,
Glad to hear that your dad survived and is on the mend. A happy Thanksgiving indeed... and thank YOU for the reminder of what we should be grateful for. Give your dad our best, and take care of you, too.

Michael & Alia

Melissa Reeston
- Thursday, November 27 2003 19:6:29

A Simple Christalmighty, Jay:

I'm truly sorry, Jay. I hope he gets better. Your circumstance is eerily similar to what happened to us some months ago, but I'm truly glad yours had a better outcome. Take care of yourselves and your family, but mostly, take care of your dad.

Mine and Scotty's best, Mel

Jay Smith
- Thursday, November 27 2003 15:49:53

Hey, ya know what?

I don't give a damn about politics and history of Thanksgiving.

This morning, 'round 3am my dad nearly died. My mom found him pale and unresponsive after calling out in his sleep. He was carted to the hospital with a pulse rate of less than 40 and a BP high enough to super-soak the ER.

The family was called and our plans to sit around on our fat asses to drink, eat and complain about stupid shit changed to waiting in the ER all day for some guy to fix our broken dad.

Dad got better with the help of someone who felt it was more important to work than to sit at home and gorge, pondering the subtle meaning of the holiday. Thanksgiving is nothing political. It's not about who did what to whom. It's about thanking God or Fate or Happenstance for SURVIVING. Making it through and appreciating the truly important things in your life.

My dad's in the hospital. He's getting better. He's still living on the planet. My family came together today for the first time in a long long while and we shared a true Thanksgiving. We're thankful dad's still here. We're thankful mom had support through the day. We're thankful we didn't draw some stupid intern who lost the draw for working the holiday. We got a real cardiologist. A damn good one. And a damn good team of professionals.

So that's Thanksgiving. No football. No big fat meal. No false pretense of uniting Whitey and the Redskin. Just family and the realization of those things we possess in this world that are most important.

Happy Day.

Joel McLemore
- Thursday, November 27 2003 13:3:52

Alex: I'm a Cherokee, which may cause some of you to say, "Ah, that explains it..." The thing about a lot of the tribes is that they really don't feel much community with people outside the tribe even if those people are also Indian. So I wasn't raised to think anything negative about Thanksgiving. For the Cherokee the ugly memories are reserved for "The Trail of Tears"..the forced removal from Georgia and the Carolinas to Oklahoma. If there's a historical figure that Cherokee people have bad feelings about it would be Andrew Jackson. My dad spit on his grave once when we were on vacation.

But as far as I can tell, a lot of Indian people aren't really interested in tribes other than their own, or at least tribes that are outside their region. So many tribes have had ugly histories with their neighbors that it's easy to see why.

I view Thanksgiving as a holiday that has negative roots, but has changed into something else over time so I don't have any problem with celebrating it. Hardly any of our holidays have much in common with their origins by this point anyway.

They have an official site at www.cherokee.org Check out the language section--it's always interesting.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Thursday, November 27 2003 10:56:33

Harry Chapin
Alex, I was a big fan of Harry Chapin in the 70's (my teens). I owned a complete collection of his 8-tracks (for you young-uns, 8-tracks were.....oh never mind) and he gave a concert just a few miles from my home in Waterloo Village, NJ. It was a fun concert, he spoke as much as he sang, and I recall purchasing a "Harry, It Sucks" tee-shirt that I held on to for years (the phrase coming from his live, not recorded, version of 30,000 Pounds Of Bananas."

Though much of his work can be considered corny today, I still feel the lyrics and music hold up.....and all of my 8-tracks have been converted to CD.

His death would have had a fairly large impact on my except for the fact that it happened about 2 months after my father died when I was 20. Instead of the impact, I more or less shrugged as celebrity deaths held nothing to the death of a dad.

It's strange, though. Just yesterday Debbie and I were discussing the affect that John Lennon's death had on many here, and how it had none on us (for me, I was more intrigued by the circumstances rather than the man who was killed), and I commented to her that the celebrity death that would have had an impact on me was Harry Chapin if it had happened at another time in my life. And now, here you are mentioning him.

Thanksgiving was his holiday, as you might imagine.

The celebrity death that really stuck with me for a long time was Isaac Asimov. It's still hard to comprehend how a body can soak in so much knowledge and good humor into it's every cell, and then all of that is lost, kaput, when the reaper visits. I couldn't shake his death for awhile, the way you shake others by awaiting the tribute news story, the tribute newspaper story, the tribute weekly news magazine story, and then filing the person away in the "no more new work to come" folder.


Los Angeles, - Thursday, November 27 2003 0:35:56

Just wanted to second the rave reviews on The Waldorf Conference--it was a great show!

I didn't have as far to travel as Shane Shellenbarger, but had to leave at about the same time to make the drive down to Beverly Hills in a timely fashion. Of course the ticket vendors had lost my reservation (after forcing me to call, as their online service only allows you to buy a minimum of _2_ tickets...apparently buying 1 puts you in the same category as the animal that shows up stag to the arc) but there were still seats available. No doubt all the people staying home to watch the finale of "Joe Millionaire."

The play itself was very intriguing, particularly because I have only a layperson's knowledge of the events of that time. It did a good job of representing the different pressures that were put on all the various people involved to make them act the way they did. HE was wonderful as usual, and I thought Robert Picardo and Paul Mazursky were also excellent. And who doesn't love Edward Asner?

Afterwards, there was a silent auction of books/documents of the blacklist period, and light refreshments. Because I am the worst mingler in the world, I just grabbed some cookies and made the trek back--yay, free parking!

Good to see you and Bill! Sorry I missed you afterwards! HE will have to make more frequent appearances so we can meet up again.

Thanks for giving me the chance to renew the Rabbit Hole again! I had been meaning to do it for awhile and just hadn't gotten around to it.

As usual, the only complaint I have concerning your performances is the long span of time between them. It was a grand job--we await the next one eagerly...

Alex Jay Berman <alexjay@earthlink.net>
Philadelphia, - Thursday, November 27 2003 0:32:10

PEG: Whereas *I* just complain about being stuck here in America for all four months of the Christmas holidays ...

DEATHS WHICH HAVE MYSELF MOVED: Hmm. I was old enough to cry when I heard about Lennon, but didn't really know why. Nine years old isn't old enough to have had such a sociological impavct made upon you.

Obviously, the Challenger disaster (guess who was home "sick" from school and watching the teevee?) hit me hard. The others that hit me hardest in their time were Heinlein, Asimov, and, perhaps out of place but which still rocked me, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Of course, in the long run, the death that still affects me the most (at least, that wasn't of a friend or relative or pet) is one I didn't even know about when it happened; one person whose work and life I didn't truly come to appreciate until years later: Harry Chapin.
Yeah, he wrote "Taxi" and "Cat's in the Cradle," but there was so much more. And sure, I love the man's songs, but few realize just what an IMPACT this grinning songwriter with the gravelly, only-fair voice had. He gave over two-hundred-odd shows a year--and out of those, morer than HALF were benefits, performed for free. He testified in front of Congress and in the White House on hunger issues, forcing many from both sides of the aisle to truly work for hunger relief years after he was gone. He almost single-handedly raised up the arts scene on his native Long Island, funding and getting funding for the Long Island Ballet, an arts center, and more. He helped start and helped inspire food banks all over the country. For the few hits he had, he appeared on talk shows, and, after singing, he'd talk, NOT pimping his albums, but talking about the needy. He co-founded World Hunger Year, as well as several other foundations and organizations which exist to this day, and his manager, Ken Kragen, was so converted by him to working for the needy that he was one of the main organizers of Live Aid, USA for Africa, and a lot of other high-profile benefit bashes. All this and more, and I only got to learn about the man and his work years afterward.

MICHAEL; COOKIE: I know, I know ... the Seuss abuse is horrible. But the books and the cartoons will endure even this. They simply can't NOT.
(But I DO have a Cat in the Hat clock--I just like it. I would NEVER have bought it if it weren't the REAL Cat; if it were a movie-based portrayal ...)

JOEL: If I may ask: What tribe(s)?

The reason I ask is both curiosity about you and because I want to get your feel on something: How much does Thanksgiving really play into the thoughts of some of the farther-flung tribes? Does a Chiricahua or Mescalero care about the Pilgrims? How about a Cherokee? Or has the Pilgrim become a symbol of the duplicitous settler?
Me, I LOVE Gluttony Day; it used to be my second-favorite holiday after Hallowe'en, and now that I'm deemed an adult, I gets the Day now beats the Eve, if barely. I couldn't feel guilty for it if I tried; my people came here only a hundred years ago, so ...

CHRIS BARKLEY: And I've been a finger's length away from that manuscript, here in Philly at the Rosenbach Museum.
(It was sold to them by Alice Liddell-Hargreaves herself)

- Wednesday, November 26 2003 18:26:57


"save the apology and pass the turkey"

If it's all the same to you, Joel, I'd rather just hand you the apology. I'm like that at the dinner table.

The reason you don't gripe about Thanksgiving is because, bless our causes, you're well and properly assimilated. God knows the work it took...shovlin' your descendents into docile complacency. But you're happy now. See how silly all that fuss about land was?


My gratitude for that tip.

David Loftus <dloft59@earthlink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Wednesday, November 26 2003 16:54:27

catchen wiz youse guyz


I am resolutely determined not to see the Cat, either -- and fortunately, I have no children to bug me about it. I think there is something creepy, or at least wickedly devilish, about the Cat as Dr. Geisel conceived him, but to realize and limit him as a live-action creature will inevitably diminish him.

I'm annoyed not only by all the TV advertising -- which is not difficult to avoid -- but by the US Postal Service cancellations. This started with that animated horse feature last year; the Cat is only the second example plastered all over our mail. Since I have to open anywhere from 10 to 450 pieces of mail per day at work, I'm especially annoyed by this. I wonder how much the postal service is getting from Disney for this unprecedented form of advertising?

Rob and Brian:

I'll never forget sitting quietly alone in my college dorm room (senior year) late at night after the first news came over the radio and weeping silently as the Boston radio stations played song after song by Lennon. The father of one of my roommates asked me what all the fuss was about, since he had been involved in the civil rights movement and thought that far more significant than a "mere singer." I explained that people were mourning their youth, mourning a sense of possibility (their own and the society's), which they associated with Lennon, as much as the man himself.

Rob was amazed the people say they cannot empathize with the impact of Kennedy's murder because it was before their time. He explained how it is possible to overcome that presumption; I was reading the third volume of Caro's biography of LBJ on the bus to work this morning and tearing up over his recitation of racist violence and threats against blacks in the 1950s (Emmett Till, Authorine Lucy) and the grand achievements of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the speeches of MLK and others.


Thanks for the Prufrock reference. I like that!

Steve Dooner:

You asked how many times America can be a girl who loses her virginity (innocence)? Over and over, world without end, goddamn (so to speak). There's a quintessential American quality of optimism and therefore innocence that we have and retain, compared to the rest of the world -- due to wealth, individualist ideology, the blandishments of consumer culture and corporate advertising, etc., etc. -- and then there is the ever-renewing faith of adolescence, which is going to be particularly pronounced in a society that worships the energy of youthfulness as opposed to the wisdom of age.

I had a strangely out-of-context, suspended reaction to JFK's murder, which occurred when I was four. I didn't hear about the shooting itself, did not witness the reaction of anyone around me personally, but I was at my cousins' house for Thanksgiving a number of days later and asked to watch some TV in the basement (since my parents didn't allow it in our house), and watched a strangely solemn parade about which I knew nothing, alone, while people bustled upstairs.

Have a happy holiday with your loved ones and/or friends, everybody; Carole is meeting me with a rented car in less than a half hour for the long drive down to Coos Bay for a rendezvous with the rest of my immediate family and many friends.

Chris M. Barkley <cmzhang56@yahoo.com>
Middletown, OH - Wednesday, November 26 2003 16:32:17

From The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor, 26 November 03
On this day in 1864, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson sent Alice Liddell a handwritten manuscript called Alice's Adventures Underground as an early Christmas present. He published Alice in Wonderland the following year, and Queen Victoria liked it so much that she dispatched a letter to him saying she would be "pleased to accept any other works by the same pen." She soon received a copy of a book called Syllabus of Plane Algebraical Geometry.

Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Wednesday, November 26 2003 12:57:3

Happy Holiday, & an FYI for Rob
Just wishing all a Happy Thanksgiving. Have fun & loaf if you get the chance.

Rob, if memory serves you're a fan of Tarkovsky? 2:30 CST tonight Turner Classic Movies is running film of his called THE SACRIFICE. Just in case you hadn't already spotted it.

Bests to all,


Mike Jacka
Phoenix, AZ - Wednesday, November 26 2003 12:56:3

Indian/Native America
This raises a question I've always had. Why is it "Indian Gaming"? Why is an unpolitically correct phrase mixed with a politically correct one? Shouldn't it be "Indian Gambling" or "Native American Gaming"?

Something to ponder over the holidays.

Speaking of which, may everyone get the bird they truly want. Happy T-day.

Frank Church
- Wednesday, November 26 2003 12:41:50

Joel, you're an Indian, eh? We sure got an exotic bunch in this void. Good to see Harlan is affecting or infecting the world.

Me and Cindy are the only butter rumped white devils. Watch us, we tricksters.


May the turkey not taste like wood, and the stuffing taste like shit. That's as idealistic as I get folks.

Ho ho ho. Love ya.

Joel McLemore
- Wednesday, November 26 2003 11:18:36

It's interesting, I'm Indian and neither I nor anyone else who is Indian that I know has ever said one bad thing about Thanksgiving. I think it's mainly guilty white people who are troubled by it, though I'm sure there are probably at least a few Indians out there who are...but if you think the majority of Indian people have some kind of hang up about Thanksgiving you don't know what you're talking about. I think the mascot issue is way overrated too...I'd rather have the Washington Redskins than a bunch of white people patronizing me any day. The tribe I belong to operates a private school and their mascot is the Indian, as was the high school where I attended...what the hey, we were mostly Indian. But it's true, there's a double standard...I just don't think it's a big deal to a lot of the people who are supposedly being besmirched. Instead of getting rid of Indian mascots, I'd rather see all the races portrayed the same way, but that'll never happen.

I do give Frank credit for using the term Indian instead of "Native American," a phony government term I've never heard used. The AIM people say it's a way to destroy identity, and they're probably right.

Anyway, save the apology and pass the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Wednesday, November 26 2003 10:40:19

This is my first Thanksgiving with all you folks in the Webderland pavilion. I am honored to be among ya.

Steve Dooner

Jay Smith
- Wednesday, November 26 2003 9:24:40

Gobble. Gobble. Gobble. Joy. Joy. Joy.

- Wednesday, November 26 2003 9:21:30

Wishing all of yous and all of yours safe travelling and hearty dinners this Thanksgiving. Don't forget to wear the pants with the elastic waistbands.


Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Wednesday, November 26 2003 8:13:33

For al of you who love books, here's a wonderful speech by Umberto Eco on the subject:

"To build, or better to rebuild, today one of the greatest libraries of the world might sound like a challenge, or a provocation. It happens frequently that in newspaper articles or academic papers some authors, facing the new computer and internet era, speak of the possible "death of books". However, if books are to disappear, as did the obelisks or the clay tablets of ancient civilisations, this would not be a good reason to abolish libraries. On the contrary, they should survive as museums conserving the finds of the past, in the same way as we conserve the Rosetta Stone in a museum because we are no longer accustomed to carving our documents on mineral surfaces.

Yet, my praise for libraries will be a little more optimistic. I belong to the people who still believe that printed books have a future and that all fears à propos of their disappearance are only the last example of other fears, or of milleniaristic terrors about the end of something, the world included."

- Wednesday, November 26 2003 8:1:34

Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you guys get the best part of the wishbone. And if you're vegans, I hope the Vurkey still satisfies.

(Me? I will hunt the turkey down, rip off the plastic outer casing, remove the pre-packaged entrails, stuff it full of sundries, and roast that mutha til it's done. By God.)

And Cookie and Michael...well said.

Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Wednesday, November 26 2003 7:38:51

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Hope it's a good one for everyone.

Take care,

ITHACA!!!, - Wednesday, November 26 2003 7:31:38

Seuss and Thanksgiving
Michael: I couldn't agree with you more. The merchandizing of the "Cat..." movie is enough to make one gag. The cat is selling everything from crackers to toilet bowl cleaners. I'm really not sure Geisel would have approved.

The tough part is trying to explain to my kids why I will NOT take them to see this movie. To them, it just looks funny. They essentially feel that I'm depriving them of "culture." I actually read an article that said, "Well, of course the adults hate it---it was made to entertain kids." Well, maybe I'm just a stodgy old fuddy-duddy, but I rather look on the work of Seuss as classic children's literature. I do not like it being toyed with. To me it doesn't look funny. It looks pathetic and overblown. That awful Grinch remake with Carrey was bad enough, but this is worse. I don't always pay attention to reviews, but one I read (I can't remember if it was the NYTimes or Salon) talked about how this movie feels the need to explain the magic of the talking fish and of the cat. There is no need to "explain" the magic in Seuss. It's just there. That made me decide there was no need to spend my money on this.

But yes, the thing that has been most distressing to me is the advertising. Maybe I wouldn't be so upset if the merchandisding coincided with the release of some sort of box-set of Seuss's books instead of this film bastardization of "The Cat...". So I just say, "No" to my children and tell them that they'll be perfectly free to rent it with their own money someday. I will not watch it ever if I can possibly help it. Just from the trailers, my opinion is that Mike Myers has turned the cat into something creepy.

Ah! That rant felt good. It's good for the digestion to get these things off one's chest. And speaking of digestion: HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all and sundry! We'll be having a bit smaller feast than anticipated because my poor father and stepmother were in a car accident on their way here from Maine last night. Fortunately, neither one of them was physically hurt but we'll be missing them at our table this year.

May you and your loved ones have safe travel and may you all enjoy the feast!!!

Michael <leftearpro@hotmail.com>
- Wednesday, November 26 2003 0:53:46

On Geisel Abuse...
I have to say that I don't so much mind the fact that Howard and Myers are mining Dr. Seuss for material; they paid for the rights and they get the chance to make their art, like everybody else. What seems almost unholy to me is to see that beloved image of The Cat In The Hat all over the fucking television selling every piece of shit corporate scumwad product they can make a dime from! It's awful... I can only hope that whomever sold off the marketing rights to Geisel's work should grow upside down in the ground like a turnip.

As for all the Thanksgiving wishes around here, well, consider them seconded from Blumland. Thanksgiving here is the biggest party of the year -- since Alia and I seem to pick up strays like a Hoover picks up lint, we always throw a dinner for all the people we know who don't have family or are far from home, so I get to cook for three days and see a roomful of smiles and distended bellies. Today I made two pies, four pumpkin cheesecakes and about 200 rolls, tomorrow is eight side dishes, then Thursday is a bird the size of Godzilla.

And in spite of this messed-up world we live in, I find myself truly grateful for all the wonderful people and things in my life. That includes you bozos, too!

Even Frank.

Have a fun and safe holiday, all!

Michael (and Alia, of course)

Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
Lakewood, Colorado - Tuesday, November 25 2003 20:25:52

No dead Kennedys here. Nope.

Is he gone?

Are you sure?

Are you sure you're sure?


And a Happy Thanksgiving to all,


- Tuesday, November 25 2003 17:42:13

Brevity!? Brevity?


Yes...well...as I was saying...

I feel once we get into listing tragedies that effect us personally - even Lennon (and, as with Brian, that one was a terrible experience for me as well) - we begin to forget why losing Kennedy was so profoundly different. His death - and the way it took place - affects the social and political landscape to this day. Even the entrenched attitudes of today's generation are an indirect consequence of that November. For EXACTLY the reasons Harlan articulated in his post a ways back (which I didn't spot until after my last post); take another look at it. It's the reason I went for Church's jugular when he talked about this one guy "whom we need to forget and move on", without any grasp of what it meant.

In this sense, the only loss I can say pains me as much is Robert Kennedy...because he represented the last chance this country had. After that thugs, goon squads, corporate greed, and cold-blooded indifference would control all that you see and hear.

And that's a wrap.

Alex Krislov <Alexkrislov@cs.com>
- Tuesday, November 25 2003 13:54:1

Frank, my father must have been asked about Hoffa's fate more often than I heard vampire jokes from people who learned I went to Transylvania University. He had a stock answer.

He insisted Hoffa was probably ground up into a big meat lot and distributed widely. He didn't claim to know it--he just said it was the most likely answer. Then he'd make some nasty comments about Chuckie O'Brien.

I met Hoffa as a tad, but it was so long ago, I just remember a big grin and a quick brush-off. Other than that, my only contact with the world of the Teamsters was in graduate school, when I found myself living just a building away from Jackie Presser's daughter. We never spoke.

Still, I have a framed picture of Hoffa, autographed to my father, alongside a letter granting the Supreme Court appeal. It's a great conversation piece for us old farts. Younger folks see it on the wall and ask who Hoffa is. Time to wear my trousers rolled.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Remember--it's a no hamburger day.

Peg <trbotongue@aol.com>
- Tuesday, November 25 2003 13:43:33

pathetic whining
How's this for bad timing...

I miss the best summer for years in the UK, stuck working in Kuwait.

I miss the (typically) best weather in Kuwait, stuck in the UK.

I get no holiday time for Thanksgiving, not celebrated in the UK.

I get no holiday for EID (holiday at the end of Ramadan) because of not being in Kuwait.

I will probably be in Kuwait just in time to have no holiday for Christmas, since it is not celebrated.

I really gotta work on my schedule! ;-)

Frank Church
- Tuesday, November 25 2003 13:1:13

Brian, I think it was a lone gunman, but with multiple personalities.

Maybe it was a complexly drawn suicide plot.

I'd put money on the Termanator.


Nice article about the Washington REDSKINS debate.


Tell an Indian today that you and your country are sorry, before throwing the turkey carcass into the void.

Shane Shellenbarger
Phoenix (It was warmer in L.A. yesterday), AZ - Tuesday, November 25 2003 12:44:43

The Performing Twelve
Sometimes you do irrational things for rational reasons. Sometimes you do rational things for irrational reasons. I'm not sure where this falls, but yesterday my wife, Laurie, and I flew to L.A.X., picked up our car rental, checked into our hotel, drove to the IKEA in Burbank, drove 33 miles from the IKEA store in just under 90 minutes to the WGA Theater (if we'd only taken surface streets instead of the freeways!), parked in the theater's garage, and entered just in time to hear the announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats, we're about to begin!" Whooh!

It was a great play with a fantastic cast! We hung out with Harlan and Susan at the reception and when we asked Harlan to introduce us to Ed Asner, he graciously obliged us for which we are grateful. Our thanks to the Ellison's and to all of the cast, crew, and creators who made November 24th, 2003 a very special event.

P.A. Berman
- Tuesday, November 25 2003 12:31:18

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all and sundry. May you all have wonderful things to be thankful for. Check you guys over the weekend, as I am off to NYC to be with family.


PS--Fine, you win. The Kennedy assassination did not herald a loss of innocence for America. I apologize for the cliche. See how brief that was? Something else for which to be thankful, as brevity *IS* the soul of wit, after all.

- Tuesday, November 25 2003 10:29:0

A very fruitful and uplifting Thanksgiving to you all. After the rigors of long rehearsals and the performance last night, both Susan and I will be lying low for half a dozen days. So you just carry on without us for a bit; and I'll come look in on y'all again next week.

My regards to each and every, Harlan

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, Massachusetts - Tuesday, November 25 2003 10:12:19

On Context and Biography

A friend of mine told me he read that poisonous biography of John Lennon at the same time he read a biography of Adolph Hitler that happened to look at Hitler's family background to explain his monstrous activities. At the end of the day, he found that Hitler was coming off much better than Lennon. Biography is always a matter of context and perspective.

I think this is part of the problem with all the JFK biography. Womanizing and "Ian Fleming-esque" attitudes aside, Kennedy did not give us the Gulf of Ton Kin nor the Tet Offensive. He did not perpetrate secret bombings in Cambodia, break into the Watergate Hotel or fight two wars for Haliburton Oil.

Modern politics is more sordid than it's ever been, and before you guys jump on me, I know that Dulles was the head of the CIA during the Kennedy Administration and all the lovely things he did. The problem is that our covert politics have become our overt politics.

Despite this, I have to agree with Mark Walsh. America is a girl who keeps losing her virginity. How many times is this possible? We can no longer claim "loss of innocence," especially after the advent of Pax Americana politics.


Steve Dooner

Joel McLemore
- Tuesday, November 25 2003 9:39:58

I lived in Oklahoma at the time of the bombing there [though I wasn't close to Oklahoma City itself] and have visited the site of the bombing a couple of times, once a year or so after it happened, and last year to visit the museum they have there now.
The museum really tore at my emotions. This was less than a year after 9/11 and they had a special memorial to all the NYC rescue workers who had helped in Oklahoma City who had died on 9/11. Several had.

There are a few people I know there who are a little resentful about 9/11 for what reason I'm not sure, maybe because they feel like they've been overshadowed, though I haven't heard that from anyone who actually lost someone in the bombing. The state is pursuing a capital murder case against Terry Nichols but I don't think most people are interested in going through it all again.

But I don't think it ranks with the "national traumas" as bad as it was, probably because it was so quickly resolved, and there never were any more attacks on that level from that sector of the lunatic fringe.

Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
Chicago, - Tuesday, November 25 2003 8:52:8


There is no conspiracy debate - merely some individuals who've (take your pick):

1. Been relying on outdated forensics and bad science

2. Come up with a theory, then worked backwards, bending every event to twist into it.

3. Just plain don't trust anybody, and assume that the government, Mafia or Joe DiMaggio had something to do with it.

Really, that sad pathetic nobody Oswald acted alone. All the evidence points towards it (and I'd like to thank ABC, btw, for their wonderful show last Thursday dissecting the evidence and showing how every theory about magic bullets and grassy knolls is 100% wrong).


Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Tuesday, November 25 2003 6:59:36

Hey, Harlan, got a question for ya: How do you stand on the Kennedy assassination debate? Deranged loner? Mafia? CIA? Right-wing cabal? (Not planning on debating the issue; personally, I lean towards "lone gunman" because it helps me avoid people who _want_ to argue at length. Just curious.)

Okay, more on Kennedy and traumatic events. I was only nine months old when Kennedy was killed, so my exposure to the whole thing came through my mom's obsession with the man. Every time they re-ran the funeral footage, she'd start this horrible crying. I could get drawn into the drama as well. In fact, if you want to read about a national trauma even further back in time, I'd recommend William Manchester's magnificent narrative of the death of Franklin Roosevelt in _The Glory and the Dream_.

But the event which probably marked _me_ above all wasn't Kennedy, or the Challenger disaster, or even 9/11. It was the murder of John Lennon.

I was in high school, and I'd just started to discover Lennon's solo albums. Lennon and Yoko Ono had just released a new album, his first in five years, their first actual collaboration billed to both of them, and Lennon was singing about the joys of his life: reaching 40, having a son, having a marriage that gave him unending joy.

Now, this was happening just when Reagan had won the Presidency. So late 1980 had all the characteristics of the Passing of the Light, when filth like Meese and Falwell and Robertson looked as though they were going to plunge our country into debt, fear, and terror. So the return of John Lennon-- a happy, healthy, mature Lennon, his wit undimmed, his talent secure, a man who'd fought his way past human shitpiles like Thurmond and Mitchell and Nixon just to live in America-- had such promise.

And then some demented Jesus-shouter murdered him.

That was one of the worst days of my life. I had to go into school, where I was pretty much universally hated, with the sick realization that genuinely _evil_ forces were at work in the world. Only bright spot that day was my English teacher, Bob Canzanese, devoting our entire session talking about what Lennon meant to him. (He was a great teacher. He's still there, too. I should send him a letter or something.)

The _Challenger_ was a horrible technical accident. Kurt Cobain killed _himself_, long before he could really evolve into someone greater than his talent. It wasn't until 9/11 that anything happened that _could_ be worse than Lennon's murder. That's one that marked the entire world.

I was going to post something about Deus Ex 2, a computer game demo I'm very disappointed in, with some thoughts on what a truly interesting computer game'd be like. But I'm a bit choked up right now.

- Monday, November 24 2003 22:8:59

I have nothing more to add to the discussions of JFK's murder. I do think sometimes it helps to take a good hard look at a traumatic event and the effect it had on the country and the world. I wonder what people will say about 9/11 fourty years from now.


If you want a humorous look at advertising from the inside, as well as a look at early television and late radio comedy, I'd recommend looking up Stan Freberg's autobiography, "It Only Hurts When I Laugh". Freberg created an advertising firm whose coat of arms had the slogan, "Ars Gratis Pecuniae" (sp?). Freberg's unofficial slogan was also "More truth in advertising than the client had in mind". His book illustrates the utter lack of imagination he encountered in an industry where one got ahead more by stabbing a colleague in the back than through talent. One of his satirical pieces, "Grey Flannel Hat Full of Teenage Werewolves" was a send-up of the business that probably made most of his money.


- Monday, November 24 2003 17:18:45

Occasionally I meet people who tell me they cannot empathize with the impact of Kennedy's murder because they weren't around at the time. I find this very disconcerting.

The tragedy took place a couple years before I was born. But the massive documentary footage I've seen in the course of a decade (bolstered by several courses covering the period) allowed me to relive the horror and understand what it all meant. The emotion is overwhelming; utterly devastating; and profound...because, as a journalist I was listening to last night put it, this was the first time in history the nation shared a traumatic collective experience, thanks to the medium of t.v. which was still very much in its infancy. The cameras follow almost every insane moment from the book depository in Dallas to the bullet blasted into Oswald to expressions of horror and pain and finally the burials of Kennedy and his assassin virtually juxtaposed. In the sense of the media being the nation's eyes, this was the FIRST 9/11; it brought the nation together in a way that was never possible before. (Sometime, I urge you to look at the comprehensive coverages back-to-back; the parallels may blow your mind.) For me, the shock is encapsulated by that video of Walter Cronkite officially announcing Kennedy's passing, in which he wavers for a second as he realizes the unthinkable had happened. I'm fascinated by the whole damn thing.

You didn't have to be there to empathize.

Frank: well...yes, I think you DO need WAR AND PEACE. You made factually inaccurate statements back there and even the way you sized things up just now seems to miss something. If I were you, if you DON'T want your comments to be taken at face value, I would learn to expound better.


I agree with your post. It was very much how I reacted. "We lost our innocence", it seems to me, is one of those quaint cliches we repeat until we no longer think about what we're saying. Most tragedies happen because we're so naive (or naively arrogant, which is practically a redundancy) in some crucial way, allowing the conditions for them. They're all linked by the lip-biting sentiment, "if only we had done that". In other words, the Kennedy tragedy would have been like so many others prior if that's all there was to it. What made this tragedy so different is the question. What relevance do we find in it today? Why do I find it affecting ME the way it does?

- Monday, November 24 2003 16:59:56

RE: An Old Man Speaks

Agreed, it's a very different world we would live in that the world that could have been.

We were talking over lunch, recalling how long it took for some to fully grasp the news when JFK died, and seeing the accused assasin killed. The suddenness of events, not unlike 9/11, leaving people stunned for a moment, then asking, "Did that really just happen?"

The converation ranged from the biographies and articles, books and films, conspiracy theories (including Oliver Stone's "JFK" and long before it "Executive Action"). I did a little mental math and said, "You realize that the Republicans, by the time the election comes around, will have been in the White House two out of every three years for the last thirty-six years?"

Yeah, Nixon, Ford (don't forget the only man to be Commander in Chief who was elected to no office higher than senator), Reagan (and the recent gutless decision by CBS), Bush and Bush the Sequel. It really hits home when we read reports that the White House is banning coverage of the bodies being brought back from Iraq (from the war that was declared "over" several months ago). Young men and women being killed, many with weapons sold to Iraq during the Reagan/Bush years. Or look at it people dying because of unfinished business from twelve years ago. Them there's Watergate, Iran-Contra, Whitewater, Enron, the facade of "no child left behind" and on and on...

So there's no misunderstanding, there is no claim that Jack and Bobby (or Martin or Malcolm) were saintly and perfect. They just chose to take a good hard look at "conventional wisdom" and question it. May we have a leader that does not believe that the business of America is Business and War or that the dead, the poor and the unemployed are "acceptable losses."

"Some look at things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I prefer to dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?'"

- Monday, November 24 2003 16:57:54

RE: An Old Man Speaks

Agreed, it's a very different world we would live in that the world that could have been.

We were talking over lunch, recalling how long it took for some to fully grasp the news when JFK died, and seeing the accused assasin killed. The suddenness of events, not unlike 9/11, leaving people stunned for a moment, then asking, "Did that really just happen?"

The converation ranged from the biographies and articles, books and films, conspiracy theories (including Oliver Stone's "JFK" and long before it "Executive Action"). I did a little mental math and said, "You realize that the Republicans, by the time the election comes around, will have been in the White House two out of every three years for the last thirty-six years?"

Yeah, Nixon, Ford (don't forget the only man to be Commander in Chief who was elected to no office higher than senator), Reagan (and the recent gutless decision by CBS), Bush and Bush the Sequel. It really hits home when we read reports that the White House is banning coverage of the bodies being brought back from Iraq (from the war that was declared "over" several months ago). Young men and women being killed, many with weapons sold to Iraq during the Reagan/Bush years. Or look at it people dying because of unfinished business from twelve years ago. Them there's Watergate, Iran-Contra, Whitewater, Enron, the facade of "no child left behind" and on and on...

So there's no misunderstanding, there is no claim that Jack and Bobby (or Martin or Malcolm) were saintly and perfect. They just chose to take a good hard look at "conventional wisdom" and question it. May we have a leader that does not believe that the business of America is Business and War.

"Some look at things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I prefer to dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?'"

Frank Church
- Monday, November 24 2003 14:4:58

Ladder. Sowwy.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Monday, November 24 2003 13:56:7

Re Kennedy. Not to second-guess an Old Man who Speaketh, but... well, here goes.

There _was_ a different spirit in those days, and I like to think that it continued to flower during that decade _despite_ the loss of Kennedy. His death certainly _deranged_ something in the American psyche, and maybe that came out through bullshit like the Weathermen. But there was just too much good stuff in existence, ready to bloom, and Kennedy's rise was as much a product as it was a driving force. (I do wonder if the Beatles would have been as big as they were if they'd come to America while Kennedy was alive.)

And Kennedy himself was a definite Change of Pace as far as politicians go. Let's put this in simple terms. Outside of Franklin Roosevelt, I can't think of any Chief Executive I'd rather have as a dinner guest than JFK. He was intelligent, cultured, a strong sense of irony, and by all intimate accounts (save Angie Dickinson's) a Pretty Nifty Guy.

Yes (Frank), I'm well aware of the problems with his administration, and even his personal shortcomings. But there haven't been many Presidents with whom I feel I could have a decent conversation. (Okay, I could talk wood shop with Jimmy Carter, who has pictures of his hand-made clamps in this month's issue of _Fine Woodworking_.)

That said, I also feel that much of the spirit of that time would probably have gone _beyond_ JFK. Here's a nice, paradoxical situation for y'all. In the early 1960s, we have a young, seemingly energetic President who reflects a lot of the better qualities of the generation coming to adulthood. The young men and women who wrote the Port Huron Statement are people who were prepared to address the problems of our country head-on, with hearts on fire and brains on ice, and I suspect that most of them felt that, in Kennedy, here was someone who could appreciate their concerns.

But Kennedy _himself_ was not a radical. He was a Cold Warrior who'd worked with Joseph McCarthy, and who'd campaigned against Richard Nixon with inflated claims of missile gaps. His efforts at Civil Rights were halfhearted at best. This was a guy who had to deal with figures like Richard Russell and even Lyndon Johnson to get the nomination, and with Hoover when in office. I think we can understand why Kennedy probably wasn't as forthright as, say, Martin Luther King. So, if Kennedy was an inspiring figure, I fully suspect that the people he _did_ inspire would have moved on beyond him. Maybe he'd have kept pace, or accomplished more in the wake of their cultural progress. And it's hard to imagine Kennedy turning into a retrograde figure of the 1960s, as Hubert Humphrey did.

I think it's reasonable to say that, had Kennedy lived, the radicalism of the 1960s would have been of a very different sort. I suspect more of the New Left would have operated within the system, as lawyers, poll watchers, voting organizers, consumer advocates, Civil Rights advocates, and much more. It's possible that they would have exerted more influence in foreign policy, and encouraged a very different outcome in Vietnam. It's possible that Americans would have been, simply, _better_ human beings, instead of fragmenting into hysterical politics, or turning inwards and nursing the resentments that brought Nixon and Reagan to power.

But I'm really reluctant to put all of that on the shoulders of JFK. After all, I certainly _can't_ know this for certain. There's just as much myth-making over Kennedy as there is over Reagan "ending the Cold War." And wailing about a lost Golden Age doesn't help one's mood very much. But JFK or not, we ought to be trying to re-orient ourselves into building a decent civilization again, and asking ourselves "What Went Wrong?" only to understand what we have to do to make things right.

Frank Church
- Monday, November 24 2003 13:55:10

Deb, I never said I was glad that Kennedy died; far from that. I just think we dwell on certain things way too long after the fact; especially the conspiracy about the assassination, and the dark boogans at the the top of the latter of intrigue.

Certain things like the Holocaust are different, because that affected a bunch of innocent people, and represented a dark part of history we need never repeat.

Kennedy is dead, we cannot bring the man back. We can remember, we can mourn, we can light candles or firecrackers. But let's not act like that one moment was the worst moment ever to grace American life. Let's not forget, but let's also move on to making the world better.

You inviting me over for Thanksgiving, Todd and Deb? Love nibbles.


Krislov, so, where then is Hoffa buried? Come on, you know, fess up? Wink.


Rob, I didn't need War And Peace. I understand what Kennedy was about. I just don't like our cannonization of elites. Gore Vidal, who was Kennedy's buddy might agree.

Some short hand truth for you comrade:


But I still love you pookie.


Hope everyone has a safe and peaceful holiday. Truly.

P.A. Berman
- Monday, November 24 2003 13:35:35

Mark Walsh: Hey, at least your generation HAD some innocence to lose. My generation, so warmly referred to as Generation X, never had any. I remember being cynical about the government as early as 4th grade (the year Reagan was elected). I don't think people in my age bracket EVER had any illusions about the honesty of our leaders, the corruption of politics, or the trustworthiness of anyone in a position of national authority.

Sure, 9/11 scared the crap out of us, but most people I know immediately wondered how much our government knew and was involved in that disaster, and how much our governmental policies of late decades brought such a tragedy down on our heads. It may have put a damper on our feelings of security in our own borders, but there really was no innocence for us to lose.

Disclaimer: This is not a post intended to read like "oh, poor Gen X, we never had a childhood." We have had many advantages our parents lacked, and I realize that. I'm just saying that we were fed cynicism and skepticism with mother's milk, and Generations Y and Z (for lack of a better name) are even more lacking in the natural naivete of youth than we were...

All of the above was meant only to back up my claim that JFK's assassination WAS a turning point for American trust in government, not to open up another can of worms about 9/11, etc. Hell, I won't be around to read any posts after tomorrow until the weekend, so don't go nuts on me, OK?


TEXAS - Monday, November 24 2003 12:55:11

When Kennedy died I was 5. I attended Kindergarten at St.Paul Lutheran School in Austin. After Dallas, JFK was supposed to COME to Austin. Our Kindergarten class was scheduled to meet him.
In my 5 year old Cindy mind-- I thought that he was coming to Austin solely to meet me and my class (in that order). I was sitting in front of the television, (I think) As The World Turns was on. I remember Walter Cronkite crying. My father hadn't lived with us since I was small and it was the first time I'd ever seen a man cry. It was not comforting. The neighbor lady didn't help matters either. She came over in tears--her red hair and her face nearly the same color. I couldn't imagine anyone being dead-- let alone someone I was supposed to be meeting.

Later, when I saw the coffin in the funeral procession and I thought about President Kennedy being in that box, I cried.

Harlan's correct. There hasn't been one to match him-- not one.


My loose ends...
Peg, you're welcome

Jim Davis-- I love it when you quote me.

You bein' bad again? Be sweet! You KNOW you want to be.

Jon Stover,
Thank YOU for the pat on the back for my erstwhile court case.

I love ya.


- Monday, November 24 2003 12:20:46


Point taken.


"Reagan, Nixon, Johnson, Bush Sr. and the Shrub, and even Clinton (I omit poor Carter, who tried but served with limited ability), none of them would have happened, had JFK lived out his term."

That's a pretty bold statement, but somehow I believe it.

- Monday, November 24 2003 12:11:29


For all your parvenu, arriviste, Johnnies-&-Janies-Come-Lately nattering, life under JFK was far sweeter, infinitely more humane and intelligent than it has been under ANY other administration since. "Adventurism," as you pillory him, notwithstanding. If those who despise our Constitution had wanted to turn the direction of our national humanity 180 degrees, they could not have done it more efficaciously than by butchering John F. Kennedy and his brother. Reagan, Nixon, Johnson, Bush Sr. and the Shrub, and even Clinton (I omit poor Carter, who tried but served with limited ability), none of them would have happened, had JFK lived out his term.

I was there. I know what I'm talking about. It is a sadder, more desperate, meaner nation now than it would have been.

Weeping for my land and its people, Harlan Ellison

Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL - Monday, November 24 2003 11:58:21

Frank, Frank, Frank. What the hey are we to do with you?

AZ - Monday, November 24 2003 11:19:14

PA Berman: Something you said in your last post made me laugh so hard the coffee flew out of my nose! Not a pretty sight. But I had been thinking the EXACT same thing.
To All: Hope you have a happy and warm Thanksgiving. That goes for you too Frank!

Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
- Monday, November 24 2003 11:16:19


One small addition to your well-done essay on Kennedy and civil rights - the Kennedy administration did finally ram through the integration of the army, which had been recommended by Truman but had languished for a decade-and-a-half.


Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Monday, November 24 2003 10:56:48


I know Jack Kennedy was a philandering cold warrior, but JEEZ!

The guy had his brains splattered all over his wife for Crissakes!

I think you guys would show more sympathy to Hitler after he sprayed his own brains over Eva.

Maybe the loss of American innocence--that my buddy Mark Walsh refers to--is happening right now on these boards when nobody can ever say a damn decent thing about anything or anybody.

Oh, the humanity!

Steve "Not a fan of Kennedy's Cold War adventurism either" Dooner

Joel McLemore
- Monday, November 24 2003 10:54:4

I watch a little television here and there, but mainly reruns of older shows. Haven't watched network TV on a regular basis in a few years. For a long time the television was just to watch videotapes on--it'll probably be that way again soon. Of course, the Internet can be as bad as television, maybe worse.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Monday, November 24 2003 10:48:6

Ben wrote:
'I came across a VERY disturbing paragraph while reading "THE QUESTION OF REALISM," by Robert Stam, from FILM & THEORY: AN ANTHOLOGY. I highlighted the passage in orange because it smashed the primary problem with contemporary commercials right on the nose:"

"'Yet the self-referentiality of commercials that deconstruct themselves or parody other commercials serves only to trigger a state of relaxed expectation which renders the viewer more permeable to the commercial message. Indeed, advertisers have such faith in this kind of lucrative self-mockery that ABC took to tongue-in-cheek denunciations of the negative effects of it's own programming: '8 Hours a Day, That's All We Ask' reads one panel, and the next: 'Don't Worry, You've Got Billions of Brain Cells.''"

Ben, don't let stuff like this disturb you. It's not really very different from bullshit like those "Subliminal Seduction" hoaxes, where advertising people airbrushed words like "Sex" onto photos of ice cubes and Ritz crackers.

The facts are as follows. The commercials make fun of themselves because of several reasons. One, they can be funny. Two, they are created by people who _work_ in commercials, and they get punchy, and have to vent about the cliches and routine tropes sometimes. Three, these are gags which people _outside_ the industry find amusing, too.

Look at that first sentence again: "Yet the self-referentiality of commercials that deconstruct themselves or parody other commercials serves only to trigger a state of relaxed expectation which renders the viewer more permeable to the commercial message." Sure, right: doesn't this quasi-technical verbiage paint a wonderful word-picture right out of _Max Headroom_, where viewers are merely passive receptors, little more than vapid X-boxes awaiting a new input of RAM? If brainwashing were only _that simple_...

I mean, feel free to see most human beings that way... but then demonstrate why you're _not_ that way.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Monday, November 24 2003 9:21:38


This is more observation than suggestion, but I got sick of TV at one point and threw the damn thing away. Didn't buy another one for eight of the best years of my life.


Alex Krislov <Alexkrislov@cs.com>
- Monday, November 24 2003 9:20:14

Kennedy &c
Frank, it's fun to play iconoclast, I know, but you're trying too hard. Hell, the guy's administration wiretapped our phone (dad was one of Hoffa's attorneys), but we cared when he died.

You can't just blow off the assassination of a President. Even a President you dislike. When Kennedy died, this country hadn't lost a Prexy to an assassin's bullet in over 60 years. What was relatively common in the 19th century (three Presidents assassinated at 20 year intervals) became unknown in the 20th. It was a shock. It was a shock the country _shouldn't_ get over. So don't mourn Kennedy, that's fine; at least mourn for the America that existed before he was murdered, because it died with him.

And I'd say the same if Bush were killed, mind you, much as I despise all his works.

But the thing about the "where were you when...?" question is that it seems to be a cryogenic chamber for inane trivia. We remember utterly meaningless events because they were surrounded by something meaningful. Instead of forgetting everything but the meaningful event, we freeze the rest into eternity.

As for me, I was 11, in the sixth grade. My school had a cheap solution to the state requirements for musical appreciation: the whole grade sat in the large auditorium at the front of the school, where a hi-fidelity (but not stereo, not yet) set-up would play classical music recordings. I was really getting into Beethoven's 9th when the principal walked up on stage, pulled the needle off with a disc-raping screetch, and told us the news.

And you know what I remember best? It was my turn to feed the class' pet hamster. Everyone got a turn, and I'd been eagerly waiting for mine for over two months. But I resented the hamster. I was pissed at the hamster. As if he'd killed Kennedy. A stupid reaction, an obvious case of misdirected angst. Little did I know I'd remember that stupid hamster 40 years later because of this.

On another topic, Chris, my mother passed at 47. I know just how you feel. Way, way too young.


Jason Michelitch <jm873@bard.edu>
Bard College, - Monday, November 24 2003 7:49:47

V-Life for the masses?
Work and life and all those wonderful things have kept me from lurking here on a regular basis, so...if perchance I missed a message that is now lost in the sea of archived posts, has there been any news on the ability of us common laypersons not subscribed to Variety to get a copy of the issue of V-Life with Harlan's new essay in it?

(and, perhaps, as a public service, if there is definitive information on how to order it, maybe it could be put as one of those locked posts that stay readable at the beginning of each page, so that a maximum number of people can see how to give their money over for new Harlan material).

Jason Michelitch

- Monday, November 24 2003 6:24:44

I came across a VERY disturbing paragraph while reading "THE QUESTION OF REALISM," by Robert Stam, from FILM & THEORY: AN ANTHOLOGY. I highlighted the passage in orange because it smashed the primary problem with contemporary commercials right on the nose:

"Yet the self-referentiality of commercials that deconstruct themselves or parody other commercials serves only to trigger a state of relaxed expectation which renders the viewer more permeable to the commercial message. Indeed, advertisers have such faith in this kind of lucrative self-mockery that ABC took to tongue-in-cheek denunciations of the negative effects of it's own programming: '8 Hours a Day, That's All We Ask' reads one panel, and the next: 'Don't Worry, You've Got Billions of Brain Cells.'"

If you can't even trust parody, who can you trust? This is why I NEVER liked SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Too many guest celebrities trying to make themselves look clever. "See? SEE?! I can make fun of myself too!! I'm a nice guy, once you get to know me!! EVERYBODY WORSHIP ME AS A GOD!! ON YOUR KNEES, PEASANTS!!"

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Monday, November 24 2003 5:37:42

The Age of Innocence?
The JFK Assassination marked the end of our innocence? I thought WWI saw the end of our innocence. No, sorry: that was WWII...or was it the Great Depression? the Civil War? the Oaklahoma Bombing? Watergate?

Robert Hughes got it right: the end of the American Innocence is a self-perpetuating myth. Or at best, it is a generational thing - one generation's JFK is another's WTC.


Los Angeles, - Monday, November 24 2003 0:8:41


Thanks for the Waldorf link! I'm going to try to make it over there if the gods of traffic and my schedule make it possible...

- Sunday, November 23 2003 22:0:26

I'm dreadfully unhappy I can't make it out to LA for tomorrow's performance, but I look forward to hearing about how things go. THE WALDORF CONFERENCE sounds like it'll be a great show. Here's to a successful evening.

Jealous of all attendees,


P.A. Berman
- Sunday, November 23 2003 20:0:15

Chris: I too was moved by your post about your parents. Thanks for being brave enough to post that. I know what you mean about hoping for an afterlife so you can think of the people you love being there. If it's any comfort to you, I'll believe in it for you.

Frank: The reason the Kennedy assassination is such a big deal to so many people, regardless of party affiliation, is the fact that it marked the end of American innocence and gave rise to that pervasive unease and distrust of the government that is standard today. JMO.

Rob: Do you put out Cliff's Notes for your posts?


- Sunday, November 23 2003 17:36:37


I did not write a "blurb" for the film THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT.

You gonna have to start reading much more closely, lad. I was commissioned to write a short essay on Chaos Theory, to be used in conjunction with the film. That's what I did; no more, no less: an essay on an extrapolative aspect of Chaos Theory. Nothing to do with the movie, pro or con. I recommended nothing. I didn't even MENTION the film in my piece.

How could I "write a blurb" for a film I haven't seen? And do you, for a moment, think I would write a blurb for a film, a book, or the Second Coming itself if I didn't feel the work was sufficiently noteworthy to attach my name to it? After all this time, Frank, and all we've meant to each other ... do you still have no understanding of how deep run my ethical imperatives? No time EVER do I attach my imprimateur to something I will not personally stand behind.

With clean hands, and a similar cringe at the persona of Kutcher, I remain, most respectfully,

Yr. pal, Harlan

Joel McLemore
- Sunday, November 23 2003 15:41:0

I wasn't yet alive when JFK was assassinated...I guess for my generation the closest thing would be 9/11, or maybe the first time the Space Shuttle was lost [something which I didn't think had much impact on me until it happened again back in February.] But as far as a single individual's assassination that had huge implications on the world or at least on the country he led and the surrounding region, I think the closest thing in recent times was probably the assassination of Rabin back in 1995.

Earl Wells
- Sunday, November 23 2003 15:22:36

Todd asked, "So, where were you when Kennedy was shot? What do you remember?"

When Kennedy was killed, I was 9 and in school. When the news reached our classroom, the poor teacher - who probably wasn't much more than a kid herself - was so shaken with grief that she left the room weeping. For a few long strange minutes no adult was at the helm and my classmates and I drifted to the steps outside the classroom door, where I heard one of my pals say "It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy."

As much as losing a president to a sniper's bullet, that's what I remember from that day: an authority figure's loss of control, and a child's expression of viciousness towards a murdered stranger. Every now and then rude reality breaks free and disrupts the show, and not even the quickest players can ad-lib their way through the wild scramble.

TEXAS - Sunday, November 23 2003 14:1:21

Oh Chris,
You made me cry. I'm still trying to see the screen through this watery veil but I wanted to tell you how beautiful that was and how touched I am by what you wrote. Your parents were so blessed to have a child like you-- one who will never forget who they were and what they were to eachother and to you. So many never know what it is like to be adored and to adore-- you do and so did your parents.

I know you don't believe, and I don't think that matters. I'm sure they're together and not too far away. It isn't over. God must love you alot to give you folks like that.

Love to you from me,

- Sunday, November 23 2003 13:46:30

Frank's usual shorthand for the facts:

"Just for almost blowing up the world with the Cuban Missle Crisis is enough to not mourn the guy"

...and where was Nikita in all this, Frank? Don't you think Kennedy had a little help from the opposite end of the field?

Kennedy WOULD go on to build more Polaris missles than anyone in the world. But I think it served the U.S. to become the greatest global phallic symbol in history. Having the BIGGEST does a country proud.

Bearing in mind little more can be said in behalf of most other presidents we've had, I agree about how the mythology embroiders the Kennedy figure. Yet, to abbreviate the facts for the sake of demonizing JFK serves to distort things just as much.

Truly, it was BOBBY Kennedy who, in the course of so many traumatic events, would become a lightening rod for the civil rights and anti-war movements. And the mythologies aside, the mind-staggering ironies attached to the Kennedy history (right out of Aristotle's definitions of drama and tragedy) are irresistible. Whatever apathy he had in the 50's and early 60's about civil rights, RFK was the one with the brains - enough to re-evaluate himself and the complexity of what unfolded.

But I digress. WHAT, bearing in mind the complexity of the political landscape of the time, did JFK actually accomplish on the homefront (even if it was a posthumous achievement)?

Once Jack Kennedy took office he could either ignore discrimination or he could act. From the documentaries I've been watching (the piece on KCET'S THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE called THE KENNEDYS being by far the finest and most powerful ever made) he had promised in his campaign speeches to act swiftly if elected. But in 1960 the Civil Rights Commission made it very plain in clear statistics just how bad discrimination had affected the black community. In those days, it seemed no one in Whitey World gave a FUCK. This was a time in which housing for blacks was unacceptable by nearly 60%; wherein the infant mortality among blacks was twice that of whites; wherein property values would drop drastically just because a black family would move into a neighborhood. And no one seemed to give a fuck.

This means there was no public support for civil rights legislation. In a journalism course I took at Cal State recently the professor ran an excellent documentary which juxtaposed tv in those decades with the political landscape. It was ALL white and happy, reflecting NOTHING that was really going on in the country. I don't think the public had ANY connection with reality in the 50's and early 60's, except the success stories for whites. So...opinion polls indicated that in 1960 and 1961, civil rights was at the bottom of the list when people were asked "what needs to be done in America to advance society?" Kennedy WAS concentrating his domestic attention on improving health care and helping the lowest wage earners. Civil rights issues would only cloud the issue and disrupt progress in these areas. Kennedy tried to argue that improving health care and wages for the poor would effectively be civil rights legislation as they would benefit the most from these two.

So, what did Kennedy do to advance the cause of civil rights?

Once we understand how primitive things were at the time we have a more honest measuring stick to examine things. Kennedy put pressure on federal government organisations to employ more blacks in America’s equivalent of Britain’s Civil Service. Any who had been employed were usually in the lowest paid posts and in jobs that had little prospect of professional progress. Kennedy did more than any president before him to have more blacks appointed to federal government posts.

When he appointed his brother as attorney general his tactic would be to use the courts as a way of enforcing already passed civil rights legislation. No southern court could really argue against laws that were already in print - though they were very good at interpreting the law in their own special ways. As a result the Justice Department brought many, many law suits against local officials for obstructing African Americans who wished to register their right to vote. Local officials from Louisiana were threatened with prison for contempt when they refused to hand over money to newly desegregated schools. Such a threat prompted others in Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans to hand over finance without too many.

Kennedy achieved what appeared as small gestures. In American football, the Washington Redskins were the last of the big teams to refuse to sign blacks. Their stadium was federally funded and Kennedy ordered that they were no longer allowed to use the stadium and would have to find a new one. The team very quickly signed up African American players.

Kennedy created the Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity. Its job was to ensure that all people employed with the federal government had equal employment opportunities; it also required all those firms that had contracts with the federal government to do the same if they were to win further federal contracts.

In many ways, Kennedy’s hands were tied by both national and international events. The reaction of the KKK to the Freedom Rides of 1961 was shown on national t.v. and clearly shocked the public. But public polls showed that they believed that the Freedom Rides should not have taken place as they ("oh, my god!") provoked...even though federal law was on the Riders side! That's how sick things were. Kennedy DID distance himself here because involvement in the Freedom Riders affair would have been politically sensitive, given it had no sizeable public mandate.

In terms of voter registration, Kennedy’s administration did nothing in its first year in office. On the advice of his brother he claimed that it was strictly the duty of the states to reform this area. Here Kennedy was no doubt attempting to win the support of those who believed that federal power was too big and trespassing in too many areas - especially the right of states to govern themselves as laid out in the Constitution.

Then, in the violence seen at Albany, I believe in 1961, Kennedy again did nothing as he believed that the trouble had been precipitated by the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. In fact, he called them sobs.

In the 1950’s little was seen of black militancy. Progress, albeit on paper, had been made under both Truman and Eisenhower. The lack of obvious improvements under the Kennedy administration saw the start of black militancy. Martin Luther King pointed out that when those in power won't do the work you have to do it yourself.

It was James Meredith, who applied to a white-only college and got turned down, who forced Kennedy's hand. This was was a man who had served in the US Air Force for years and had been rejected because of his colour. Meredith got legal support add from the NAACP and the Supreme Court found in his favor. When he went to enrol, Bobby Kennedy sent 500 marshals to ensure that law and order was maintained. It was not. Nearly 200 of the marshals were injured and two were shot by those who were adamant that Meredith would not go to college. To maintain law and order, something the state government could not do, John Kennedy federalized the Mississippi National Guard and sent federal troops to the university. Meredith successfully enrolled.

Kennedy was further provoked into action by the 1963 Birmingham affair. The actions ordered by Bull Connor "sickened" Kennedy. The Justice Department was ordered to Birmingham by Bobby Kennedy and improvements quickly took place. Public facilities were desegregated and employment prospects for African Americans in Birmingham did improve somewhat.

The 1963 March on Washington was initially opposed by Kennedy as he believed that any march during his presidency would indicate that the leaders of the civil rights campaign were critical of his stance on civil rights. Kennedy also felt that the march could antagonise Congress when it was in the process of discussing his civil rights bill. A march might have been viewed by Congress as external pressure being put on them. Kennedy eventually endorsed the march when it was agreed that the federal government could have an input into it.

For a man who claimed that poor housing could be ended with the signing of the president's name, Kennedy did nothing. His Department of Urban Affairs bill was rejected by Congress and eventually only a weak housing act was passed which applied only to future federal housing projects.

Kennedy was a politician and he was acutely aware that Democrats were less than happy with a disproportionate amount of time being spent on civil rights issues when the Cold War was in full flight with Vietnam flaring up and the world settling down after the problems poised by Cuba.

Kennedy was also aware that southern Democrats were still powerful in the party (a TRUE bunch of assholes among the lowest order) and their wishes could not be totally ignored if the party was not to be split apart - or if Kennedy was not to get the party’s nomination for the 1964 election. However, there is no doubt that the violence that occurred in the South during his presidency horrified and angered him. Yet, for all the charisma that was attached to Kennedy’ name, he had a poor relationship with Congress and without their support nothing would become an act. Regrettably, he had to tread a fine line in the South. BUT...ya know what? He was also losing support in the north where it was felt that the administration was too concerned with the African Americans and forgetting about the majority of the people...the whites! So much for the plight of humanistic causes.

So, very much like Lincoln nearly a hundred years earlier (another Joe, incidentally, who was rather apathetic to the actual plight of blacks - who, if the South had agreed to keep the Union, would have tolerated legalized slavery in those states), Kennedy was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. If he helped the blacks in the South, he lost the support of the powerful Democrats there. If he did nothing he faced world-wide condemnation especially after the scenes vividly seen in Birmingham. Even civil rights leaders in the South criticized Kennedy for doing too little. And, as pointed out, the whining white northerners felt that its problems were being ignored while the problems of the African Americans were being addressed.

You are also wrong, Frank, about Vietnam. The U.S. was still engaging the region with military advisors. Troops weren't sent in enmasse until 1965. And Kennedy himself, in an interview with Walter Cronkite, admitted having reservations about going further there. While I admit it's only speculation, it is believed Kennedy would have pulled out.

And I'm not going to allow you to forget that Kennedy's legacy of the Peace Corps was an important one too. For the first time we were sending volunteers to assist and council citizens of underveloped countries in the execution of industrial, agricultural, educational, and public-health services.

You like to use a verbal crossbow, Frank. But without facts it lacks the tensile cohesion to make the arrow fly right.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Sunday, November 23 2003 12:3:42

Frank, as I rein in my wife before she truly shows her colors and airmails herself to you to express her true feelings upon your head with stones and broadsword:

It's not about Kennedy. Except for those who truly embraced the 'Camelot' that he brought to lives looking for safety and glitter....the murder of Kennedy is an event that changed this country, for better or worse. They don't come along that often in modern times. Events happen everyday: some earn the thick red font on all the news channels, but they aren't life changing. Michael Jackson groping child number 750 is not an event that changes this country, but he gets the thick red font.

All the little things that people can look back on and identify as events that changed this country, are not events that changed the country. They are events that led to change, but not events that whalloped us in the face, spun us around and pointed us in a different direction.

Did Kennedy's murder do that? I can't say from my own gut because I did not yet have the lucid mind to appreciate the shock. But this anniversary is not about losing Kennedy to most people, it's about how a country was kicked in the ass and forced to choose one of the paths at the fork.

The towers falling was the only such event that happened in my lucid life. Doesn't matter what everyone thinks about how this country was affected. Whether we rode the saddle of jingoism or leapt to defend every airport search, things changed immediately.

Far be it from one of the few conservatives on this board to give a damn about Kennedy. He didn't mean anything to me because he was gone before I knew what a President was. But having lived the past 42 years in the U.S., I've gotten a pretty good idea of how shattering the moment was.

Try to set aside politics for a time and appreciate how the world changes around you when you breath the fresh air.


AZ - Sunday, November 23 2003 11:44:49

Frank Church: What's it like to have such a simple mind? Must make life easier.

Frank Church
- Sunday, November 23 2003 11:5:30

Great, more meaningless piffle about the JFK assasination. Face facts, the dude is stone cold dead; leave him in the ground, under the eternal flame and bugger off.

Just for almost blowing up the world with the Cuban Missle Crisis, is enough to not mourn the guy.

He did very little for civil rights, and his administration attacked South Vietnam--leaving the countryside in ruin. This guy was no hero, just a mystified elite, that weak tea liberals jack off to every year.

Plays the Dead Kennedys--REAL LOUD!!


In the fantasy world, the only things that exist are the anxieties.

- Sunday, November 23 2003 7:8:52

Todd Cassel: You and I are the same age, and it must be just about this time that we start pondering what is "old". And how we don't really FEEL "middle aged". And the events we remember (not the important world events, just things in our own lives)which are SO clear, every detail, what was said and where and who was wearing what...and then we say 'My God that was thirty years ago'....kind of like what Lee said about his grandmother, in her mind she still felt like she was 25, only her body felt old... anyway I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking about these things. I think.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Sunday, November 23 2003 2:44:32

Jon Stover:

I’ve really enjoyed the 2 disc ‘Greatest Hits’ album that’s in current release. It’s called ‘Eternelle, Les Plus Grandes Chansons d’Edith Piaf’ and has 43 songs in roughly chronological order spanning over her whole career. If you’ve never listened much to her, you might start with disc 1, track 14 ‘Autumn Leaves’, which is maybe one of the more accessible to a modern North American listener, being in English. From there to the end of the second disc the progression moves through a good sampling of styles and with ever better recording fidelity. After you’ve acclimated to her singing style, the earlier tracks are more approachable. I like the waltz time songs from the mid-40’s around track 10.

Tony Rabig:

Very little of my liberal arts education happened at school and in the matter of what to read next I’ve always depended on recommendations from friends. Like you, I focused on science fiction and related genres in my teens and twenties but have always been happy to try anything that someone I know has found rewarding. I’ll try James again using the route that you and Steve have mapped out – and maybe think of it more in terms of poetry. I’m 42 now, so maybe his time has come.

As for symbolism in writing, here’s a related bit from Steinbeck - from ‘Sweet Thursday’- that demonstrates symbolism's most important use: proving that you are a great writer that deserves to be studied by college students.

‘(Joe’s) book was going well. His hero had been born in a state of shock and nothing subsequent had reassured him. When a symbol wasn’t slapping him in the mouth, a myth was kicking his feet out from under him. (…) The pile of green manuscript was three inches thick, and Joe Elegant was beginning to plan his photograph for the back of the dust cover: open collar, he thought, and a small, wry smile, and one hand relaxed in front of him with an open poison ring on the third finger. He knew which reviewers he could depend on and why.‘

Seriously, I have always assumed that aside from intentionally allegorical works symbolic content should operate on a reader below the conscious level. Wouldn’t an awareness of symbolic elements while reading tend to raise a barrier between the reader and the direct impact of the story?

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Sunday, November 23 2003 1:26:31

If you guys like Piaf. . .

If you folks like Edith Piaf, I really recommend the great Jean Sablon. "La Correspondence" is one of my all-time, favorite tunes, and Django Reinhardt plays superbly on many of Jean's early records.


ON TED GEISEL ABUSE: The Boston Globe reviewer said it best. "Though I know this movie will be a hit, I do not like it, not one little bit."

Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
Frostbite Falls, Colorado - Sunday, November 23 2003 0:12:59

Well, now you have some more people who will think of your mother on this date. I hope you can make peace with your memory of her passing. Wishing you well.

Where was I when JFK was shot? I was eight years old then. I was in third grade. First we heard Kennedy had been wounded and was being taken to the hospital. Then, I remember a lot of somber and crying teachers after the news of his death came through. I also remember a kid who made a clay effigy of Kennedy complete with a hole in his head. He then showed it to everyone and laughed. I sometimes wonder how that kid turned out.

Funny thing, though. I don't remember the Cuban Missile crisis. Not at all. I suspect my parents did their best to keep me away from that kind of news.


Jon Stover
Canada - Saturday, November 22 2003 22:31:24

So, this afternoon I got a phone call from my father about how the local farmer who'd rented out land from my father and had sat on the same local cemetery board with him for the last thirty years or more had died this morning (yesterday morning).

He was ninety, by the way, or would have been on Tuesday next -- which will probably be the funeral date.

So he got up, got dressed, and then he and his wife went shopping. Then they came back, and he went down to another farmer's place to see if there was anything to be done today (yesterday). There wasn't. So he went back home, and went out to look for the cat that wasn't supposed to get out but had anyway, as cats do. Couldn't find it. Came back in, sat down, had a stroke and was gone, very quickly. All before 10 a.m. or thereabouts.

He would have been ninety on Tuesday, and the best I can offer is this -- he went out a working farmer at the age of ninety, quickly and without any period of hospital time or anything like that. And about all I can come up with at this point is, rest in peace, John Cattel, 1913-2003.

Take care, Jon

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Saturday, November 22 2003 21:11:32

Sorry for the double-post. My name is John, not Todd. Maybe twenty-four IS old, after all. Dementia is setting in. Next thing you know I'll be praising Anne Rice's prose.

Todd <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Saturday, November 22 2003 21:10:13

Sorry, Todd, I wasn't around when Kennedy died. I'm twenty-four, and while that feels old I know it probably isn't.

Interesting article about JFK by, of all people, William F. Buckley. It's his latest column. Nice to read a conservative column that isn't devoted to bitching about Massachusetts and The Coming Destruction of Marriage.

Chris L
- Saturday, November 22 2003 21:7:39

What Nov 22 means to me
It is with all due respect that every year on this day, I say "Fuck JFK."

I have a good reason. On this date, now ten years ago, somebody IMPORTANT died, my mother, who was 42 years young. I can't believe it's been so long. In many ways, my life stopped that day and a whole new one started. Sometimes, it's difficult to remember life before Nov 22, 1993. I remember it almost like a movie about someone else's life.

She had fought cancer for four years. For a while, we thought she had won the battle. She went a whole year and a half with no signs of cancer. Then one day, a biopsy of what the doctor was certain was an innocuous cyst turned out to be malignant. Six months later, it had already spread to her lungs and her brain.

She said the most frightening moment for her was when she realized she could no longer sign. She had been an interpreter for the deaf, had helped found a registry of interpreters for the deaf in Philadelphia. One day, while signing to a friend of hers, she realized the signs came awkwardly. A week later, she could barely do it at all though she was still able to speak for a few more months.

When she finally succumbed, it was, of course, a relief. She had suffered badly and was heavily sedated with liquid morphine in her last days. At least we were able to keep her at home with hospice care. Let me put in a big plug for hospice nurses - the one we had was a true saint on earth, a kind, loving soul who made my mother's last few months as comforting as possible and did it all for little more than minimum wage, I am sure.

My father never recovered. I was lucky to grow up with two people who were deeply in love with each other. He passed away three years later and sometimes I deeply regret that I don't believe in an afterlife because I would love to think they are together now.

I don't think I ever recovered either. I have to remind myself I was lucky to have them in the first place. Every day of my life, I knew I was loved and you can't give a child anything more than that.

I miss her every day but I think I miss her a little more on days like today.

Ten years. Incredible. I apologize if this is a cliche but it's a good one: It seems like it was just yesterday. And it seems like it happened a thousand years ago.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Saturday, November 22 2003 20:32:37

The President Has Been Shot
So, where were you when Kennedy was shot? What do you remember? Anything? Were you even a zygote yet? It's so odd to be 42 years old, having lived through that moment which was probably as shattering to the country then as when the towers fell 25 miles from me in 2001, and having absolutely no memory of it.

Can't blame me, though. I was only 2 years and 10 months old.

While going through my mother's tattered folders earlier this year when whe passed, I found an old sermon handwritten by my father (Rabbi Louis A. Cassel, whose Newsweek subscription I've kept running under his name for the 22 years since his death) the week of Kennedy's murder. It must have been an interesting time; I'm sure no repeat after repeat of news footage and Zapruder films could do it justice.

How many here are old enough to remember? Me? When I finally came aware of the world around me, the hippies were taking over. It was an odd childhood.

Forty two fucking years old and I'm not even old enough to remember the Kennedy murder. Time makes your life history far too quickly.


Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Saturday, November 22 2003 14:41:17

Saw _Matrix revolutions_ last night, and it didn't suck as bad as people have indicated. Yes, it had serious problems, and there was more than enough bad plotting and dopey dialogue and open-ended weirdness to keep it from being a wonderful experience. But on the whole, I did enjoy it. (I just didn't expect anything profound. Go in with the expectation of cool visuals, and no profundity, and you'll be just fine.)

What bugged me was the guy who was ostensibly in command of the Zion defenses. You know the guy-- the gruff commander who was 'with" Niobe and at odds woth Morpheus. The guy got NO fuckin' respect. You could sum his situation up like this:

"We need every ship we can get because the machines are gonna come in and slaughter us."
Morpheus: "I must take a ship and do what the Oracle only half-told me with vague suggestions and windy pronouncements."
"What? Morpheus, cut the shit. We need every ship we got. Why shoudl I give up a valuable ship because you have weird religious beliefs?"
Morpheus: "My beliefs do not require you to believe."
"I don't fucking CARE. MY beliefs say that I have to defend this city. Council, back me up on this!"

Council: "I'm afraid Morpheus follows his own light. He can take a ship away."
"WHAT? Jesus fucking Christ, why don't you just give him _three_ ships?"
Council: "Morpheus, you may take three ships."
"Now, WAIT a second! I'm the general! I'm the one you hired to defend the city! I don't understand why you won't back me up here!"
Council: "Understanding is not a prerequisite for obedience."

"But... but... we _need_ those ships! Now, wait a second! I'm supposed to be in _command_ here! And we're facing the worst disaster we've ever faced! We need weapons! We need every man, woman, and child to get ready to defend our home! Niobe, back me up here!"
Niobe: "I'm sorry, but even though I'm with you, I must support Morpheus. In fact, I'm going to vounteer to help him. Don't wait up for me."

I'm surprised that we didn't see the following scene:

General guy: "So you got the general idea, right? Morpheus has three ships off in Jipip somewhere, and he's got Neo and Trinity and a whole buncha other people too. If your machines drill down here, here, and here, you can get easy entrance to Zion. By the way, here are the computer codes that handle the security system, and here's a supply pipe for the water that you can explode and flood the place. Over _here_ are the caverns where they're still holding that fucking _rave_."
Agent Smith: "We are _impressed_. Now, what did you want in exchange?"
General guy: "Just let me live on a virtual island somewhere. Coupla palm trees, a bunch women that look just like Niobe and Trinity and the one gorgeous one Link's with. And gimme a lot of weapons and a bunch of drones who look just like Morpheus, Neo, the Kid, that fucking Council, and just let me shoot the living hell out of them until I feel like eating a steak dinner..."

- Saturday, November 22 2003 13:18:42

Quarlo's helmet can be yours. . .if the price is right. . .
This may be old news around here, but if not, the auction house Profiles in History is putting up for bid a ton of genre movie and TV props on 12/12/03. Among them is a fine piece of Ellisonania (sic?), the helmet Michael Ansara wore in the classic HE penned Outer Limits episode "Soldier" (lot #487). Just the thing for the hard to please Ellison fan on your holiday list. . .

Huge PDF file with catalog and details:

Joel McLemore
- Saturday, November 22 2003 12:21:57

Big 10-4 on THE WOLF MAN...I think it's way underrated. People always talk about the emotion of Karloff's acting in FRANKENSTEIN and deservedly so, but I think Chaney's Larry Talbot is just as good.

Read some really terrible reviews of CAT IN THE HAT...probably not enough to discourage people from doing this sort of thing in the future though.

Peg <trbotongue@aol.com>
Richmond (of late), UK - Saturday, November 22 2003 9:20:23

light at the end of the tunnel?
I've had the first good day in a long while and just felt the need to share. I may have reconciled with my friend. I got two walk-in appointments in the busy christmas season (credit the rugby final, everyone was either watching the game or celebrating England's victory). ***AND*** I scored a Borges short story collection at the used bookstore for a mere 3 pounds! (No Kersh, though; shameful.) So, although larger life issues still lurk out there, at least it's been a nice day today.

Cindy, you must've passed my name on the 800 number....Thanks!

- Saturday, November 22 2003 9:17:0


I share Steve's sentiments about the patronizing modern-day bastardizations of Seuss (a genuine creative genius). Chuck Jones did Geisel thorough justice in the 60's but that was long ago. Today's high-tech mentality obliges this insular homage. Just to begin with, if I were compelled to adapt his stuff I would implement CGI animation (like Pixar) to do Geisel's designs visual justice.

No, if I want to see live hairy creatures I'll watch THE WOLF MAN with Lon Chaney, Jr. Inspired by Harlan's announcement of his new story (not to mention my heartfelt memory of LANGERHANS) I was watching the film the other night...several times. I really love this thing. The irresistable tragic dimensions of Larry Talbot run like a modern Greek tragedy. And the presence of the great actor Claude Rains, as Sir John Talbot, articulating this wonderfully written dialogue, gives the film an instant air of sophistication. For its length, the movie intelligently takes its time setting up the characters.

I should adds that Paul Sawtell's music is a fucking beautiful thing to listen to. This was the score that would later be used in the Holmes movies with Rathbone.

The high points of this film really stick with you. Today's moviemakers, including Ron Howard (who SHOULD know this) could learn something from the material (and without condescending).

Hey, man...did you know that "Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright"?

Jim Davis
- Saturday, November 22 2003 7:52:7

Jim Hess sets you all straight

Or, to quote Cindy: Jesus.

Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Saturday, November 22 2003 7:26:20

Mount James
Steve's right about starting with short fiction. I'd also suggest the following:

"The Aspern Papers," "The Beast in the Jungle," "The Figure in the Carpet," "The Great Good Place," "The Jolly Corner," and "The Altar of the Dead." All of HJ's short fiction is available now in 5 volumes from the Library of America and you should be able to find the set (or other printings of James) in any public or college library

When starting the novels, you might try WASHINGTON SQUARE or THE SPOILS OF POYNTON for openers.

Don't know if you're reading James on your own or for classes. All the damn symbol hunting in school (over "Turn of the Screw" & "Beast in the Jungle" & THE AMERICAN) just about ruined James for me, and he wasn't much fun in school anyway. I grew up on sf & mystery -- generally simpler prose than you read in James, who once wished he could find a more elaborate way to pronounce his own name -- and the contrast was quite a jolt. I found he read much better long after my school days; didn't go back for another look until I was 40.

Have fun.


Frank Church
- Saturday, November 22 2003 7:20:58

Hell nah, this Duane guy seems cool as hell (meaning, the air-conditioned, fun part of Hell.). I like this cat already. Keep postin bottle rocket; you give the joint a new jolt, it sorely needs. Some of these mooks here would bore the green jello they serve in prison. Welcome.

Now, if you are right wing, we may have to throw down, but besides that, tongue kisses and daisies in your gun barrel.


From what I saw of the new Cat In The Hat, it looked funny and well made. At least Mike Myers looks like the Cat. He will scare smaller children, I'd guess.

We should never be too pc about certain writers. We will see the movie first, before we bite down on the electric line.


The attacks in Iraq are monumental; but the right media complain that the story is too one sidedly negative. Sure, the children are going back to school, but they went to school under Saddam, right? They get to sell cheap shit on the streets now--whoopie, doo! You can sell stuff in a totalitarian government as much as any other. This thing about negative versus positive is like saying if a child is molested, we are biased, if we only mention the bad part about the abuse, and not the good story, that the abused child got a snowcone afterwards. Fox news can nibble my winkie.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Saturday, November 22 2003 4:13:50

Theodore Geisel Abuse And Other Things

HARLAN: Are you upset at all by this abuse of Theodore Geisel? He's been well-interpreted in the past by Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones and Fritz Freleng. Those great animators even took liberties with the source material, but they never felt it was necessary to rape Geisel's work the way Ron Howard and Mike Myers have done. I am grinding my teeth over this latest assault on the writer who gave us Private Snafu, The Thousand Fingers of Dr. T and The Lorax.


ON PICKING UP AND PUTTING IT DOWN: I personally like to try different angles for approaching writers. Sometimes, if I don't find any good in a writer that everyone seems to be grooving to, I will put their work down for a while and come back to it from another angle. I liked Shakespeare instantly, but I could never warm to John Milton, even when he made great Satanic flourishes in his rhetoric.

Several critics, including C. S. Lewis, helped me rehabilitate my idea of Milton. I saw him as tragically bound by Puritanism, so I needed help to see him as a more ambiguous and more conflicted writer than I realized. Then I saw his daring flaws and his religious radicalism (he was an Arrian heretic afterall. I also started to hear what Virginia Woolf called the "masculinity" of his verse, and though I never believed he was "of the devil's party," as Blake said, I could tell that their were Romantics who found more in Milton's excess exuberance than in his religious orthodoxy.

Critics were helpful, but it was finally the poem, "L'Allegro," his poem to Shakespeare, and his masque, Comus, that finally got me over the Puritan stodginess. I had to keep trying, and I'm glad I did.

The poet Donald Hall used to read Henry James outloud because he thought their was a sententious glory in James' writing that was a form of poetry itself. I have since seen collected books of the sentences of Henry James, and I recognize that their are qualities of interior monologue, artful expression and descriptive detail in James that can never be part of the speed and film-influenced twentieth century. That being said, it's always curious to me why Edith Wharton still comes across to most modern readers.

"Turn of the Screw" or "Daisy Miller" might be better places to start an assault on Mount James.


CINDY: Alas, it's true. I'm still depressed about it, and I don't know what to say, except that I am very eager to see the best in America to reassert itself. Thank you for your kind note.


Steve Dooner

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Saturday, November 22 2003 1:53:14

Oh, hi everybody!

Just me, splashing around over here in the shallow end of the Webderland swimming pool.

I agree with Jim Davis about not making youself miserable trying to like something that just doesn’t do it for you. People of ambition and high pedigree may need to be able to discuss why each major author is great, but if you’re just a normal human being looking for enrichment and entertainment in the arts it’s no use banging yourself to pieces trying to understand the merit of a work that doesn’t speak to you just because there’s a consensus that it’s great.

I wrestled stubbornly with James’ ‘Wings of the Dove’ at one point, inspired by a James Thurber review that practically worshipped the book. After my well-intentioned efforts had burned down and out I admired that Henry James could get such precisely minced phrases onto paper without losing track of his plot, but I never did get to where I could remember from one sentence to the next what was going on. And as for Faulkner’s ‘The Sound and the Fury’, I’ve tried two or three times, but that book is damned irritating and I’m done with it.

It's also true though, that a respectable number of my favorite artists (e.g. Shakespeare, Stravinsky, Balanchine) definitely did not burst into full blossom the first time I encountered them, but are rather revealing themselves gradually over time and with some effort. The trick is knowing when digging into something might be worth the trouble. Forums like Unca Harlan’s Dining Pavillion deliver a lot of value in this respect. The natural process of trading notes with unpretentious widely read people can provide well grounded inspiration to investigate or take another crack at a particular artist or art form.

I haven’t ever tried Oates, so I can’t opine about whether she’s as worthy of extra effort as Shakespeare, but after hearing from Ellison and company I’ve a mind to pick up a couple of the recommended titles and give her a go.

Duane <drwaite@juno.com>
Los Angeles, USA - Friday, November 21 2003 20:34:34

'scuze me for butting in....
Pardon me while I squeeze myself out of the e.woodwork and "pipe up!" as the webmaster has exhorted...

(And please forgive any fumbling prose my ham fists may beat onto my keyboard. It's been a long day here at Mrmee, Inc., as you can tell by the time and day stamp at the top of this post.)

I've spent the last several days scuttling through these archives, and people, this has been one breathtaking educational experience. My fevered brain cannot yet comprehend all, but I can highlight for you the following things I have learned / things I will do / observations I have made:

1> I will soon hold in my sweaty, pink little hands Richard Rhodes' __Masters of Death__. And to think I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the Third Reich from Shirer's exhaustive volume. It looks like I knew very little, after all.

2> A friend had told me about the group "Hot club of San Francisco" some time ago, and it passed through the vaccuum of my brain like a neutrino through a lightyear of lead -- there was no contact or connection made. Consider the matter remedied, as I will fire open my wallet and purchase a disc of same (or listen to it for free using one of Borders' many headphone stations, it's all good!).

3> Harlan, I'm never comfortable with laughing at others' misfortunes, but your "battle with pc gehenna" on February 9, 2003 absolutely left me in stitches. Honest, I was laughing so hard that I spewed Diet Coke all over my keyboard, and several of my cubicle dwellers were tempted to drag me to the nearest nuthouse. Of course, far be it from me to laugh. On not a few occasions, I have sat back after making many minute changes to a nearly indecipherable computer program and sighed in satisfaction of a job well done, only to have it all disappear in a cloud of electrons after accidentally striking two control keys at once, or selecting the wrong answer on the "Save New Version?" card when it pops up. So perhaps I was laughing more in an understanding of your epic battle than malice (but how much do we really know ourselves?) (The link to the battle in question...)
(http://harlanellison.com/heboard/archive/bull20030218.htm -- it's the forum with the black background)

4> I've learned that I am not alone in my anger at the "Literary Establishment's" panning of Stephen King's brilliant career. Dude is a straight-up storytelling stud, and his growing popularity and legacy will extend long past his mortal existence, and will be the "date with the cheerleader" those pompous fools know they will never get to have.

Overall, my meanderings over this board have been time well spent. Rick, awesome job moderating. Regulars, keep up the chatter. I will pipe up occasionally, and I will try hard to not come off a lugoon, fool, nitwit, right-wing religious nut, godless commie sympathizer, intellectual wanna-be...

...anyone wanna read my script?

Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL - Friday, November 21 2003 14:0:39

Edith Piaf's music can also be heard in perhaps the best sports movie ever made- Bull Durham. I kid you not,that was my first exposure to her.

Dorie Jennings
- Friday, November 21 2003 13:9:19

Alternative for those with an allergy to Oates
Jim D, thanks for that....

On a related subject-- I just read a book which impressed me: FAREWELL, I'M BOUND TO LEAVE YOU by Fred Chapell. Beautifully written, I thought. Anyone else read this?

Frank Church
- Friday, November 21 2003 13:4:45

Cindy, I would love to be my own lawyer sometime; but that would mean committing a crime, and I do not want to go that far--just yet.

And I worry that the film Harlan wrote the blurb for will suck. I hate Ashton Kutcher as well.


It seems the Iraq war is going better than I thought. Here is the action at the opening of the Bagdad Wal-Mart.


He, he. Have a nice weekend all.

Jon Stover
Canada - Friday, November 21 2003 12:58:3

Cindy: Glad to hear things went well, knock wood. Give 'em hell, keep 'em flying and all that good stuff.

As the Edith Piaf threads keeps...threading along...any suggestions for a good one or two-disc set of Piaf to check her out? I'm ashamed to say that my biggest exposure to her was in _Saving Private Ryan,_ though I know I've heard her work on the CBC before as well, late at night during my somewhat addle-brained decision to drive the entire northern Lake Superior route to the Sault after dark.

Cheers, Jon

Joel McLemore
- Friday, November 21 2003 11:54:8

Yeah, I got an appointment for the DMV about a week and a half ago. All went well, I was there maybe an hour, and I am for most intents and purposes a Californian now. Unfortunately, now I gotta get my car registered in the next 20 days--not looking forward to it.

I enjoyed ZOMBIE--it was a creepy little book. I think that's the last thing I've read by Oates.

Saw CABARET last night...yet another case of "They don't make 'em like that anymore..."

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Friday, November 21 2003 11:37:35

I may have to put my reading of Joyce Carol Oates on hold for a while. I just learned that the Modern Library's republished _The Knight of Maison-Rouge_, a novel by Alexandre Dumas that hasn't seen print in English for about a hundred years.

Yes, that's right; an Alexandre Dumas novel that is, for all purposes, _brand new_.

Otherwise, the reviews of _The Cat in the Hat_ are coming in, and this movie sems to be inspiring near-universal revulsion. God, I miss Allan Sherman.

TEXAS - Friday, November 21 2003 10:30:54

Steve Dooner,
You were right! Dead right. They had a story on the Today show this morning and they mentioned the "Dover Test". The ban on coverage of activities at Dover AFB. They discussed the current status quo and stated that the press was not allowed to cover the somber scenes of the American soldiers coming home in coffins. They intimated that the ban was implemented out of deference to the families of the fallen-- but they had on some veterans who said we need to see the reality of sending our sons and daughters off this way is.

You were right about the ban and you were right that it's wrong.

I too LOVE it that Harlan used Frank's words-- Frank's badass.


I AM a radio news reporter-- not an attorney. But my mom's lawyer bailed and she was alone facing wolves in a federal case. So for WANT of an attorney, she designated me her representative. I had only hours to prepare and it was late, so I slept. We left at 4AM. I walked into the courtroom with a pen. My mother had some blank paper and a briefcase filled with amazing documents. As the Agency's attorney began to examine her witnesses I listened and jotted down the gaps and holes in what they said. I knew every facet of my mother's story and had plenty of documented details about each of those who were there to slander her. I knew when they were lying and it wasn't difficult to ask questions that would induce them to contradict themselves. I was LUCKY in the extreme that these were NOT bright people. My mother's supervisor said (during her testimony) that my mother was incapable of learning. Strangely, she had written a memo about my mother two years ago (that I had in my possession) that stated, " If I yell at her she learns"-- SO in my cross examination I pointed out that a moment earlier she had testified that my mother was incapable of learning.... then I said, " In your written memo you stated that my mother only learns when you yell at her. So, Mrs. Hutto, which statement is accurate? IS she is incapable of learning ? Or does she learn only when you yell at her?

Each of the Federal Government's six witnesses gave me an easy belly shot. With HER questions the Attorney for the feds, Amanda Hill did the framework. I just nailed up the sides. With the exception of one question-- the Judge overruled every objection raised by Mrs. Hill... conversely every objection that I made ( and they were innumerable) was sustained. The Judge had a problem with one question because my wording was off. I knew what I needed to get to, but couldn' quite find my way. So the Judge told me how I COULD word it to get it in.

I know lot's of 'em here don't believe it-- but there is a phone number for the World Ministry of Prayer-- it's free and non denominational...OKAYYY-- for all I know they're either moonies or the five hundred wives of some mormon deacon Don Juan, but I DON'T CARE! They will get people all over the world to pray for you if you ask. They require no payment for this service. My beloved best friend Becky is a non-believer. She tried them out first-- out of desperation. Within six hours the situation she despaired of was fixed. As for me-- y'all know I'm no F.Lee Baily-- I'm more of an L.E. May .. what happened in that courtroom was a friggin MIRACLE.


PS The union man who testified on my mom's behalf spoke with her on the phone last night. He was out in the hallway with the other witnesses. He said as the witnesses for the government came out of the courtroom they all indicated they had been rattled.. he said without exception they commented that they had really been "grilled" by me.

A MIRACLE I tell ya.

(Just in case any of y'all ever need it)

Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
- Friday, November 21 2003 9:46:47

You're killing me, Harlan.

- Friday, November 21 2003 8:54:51


It actually opens into a fluegelhorn. Imagine my surprise.

- he

- Friday, November 21 2003 8:37:59

lgg: http://www.waldorfconference.com/

Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
- Friday, November 21 2003 8:32:25

Brian Siano,

Just popping in to say thanks for the Piaf link - twas a ncie background to the sets and the 40th anniversary, even if the web designer of the page saw fit to put in a horrible hovering menu on the right hand side that insisted on following me as I scrolled down teh page, obscuring some of what I wanted to read.

Not that I was annoyed at the designer or anything.


Just out of curiosity, does the Accordian set expand and contract like a real accordian? It's a really nifty looking design.


David Loftus <dloft59@earthlink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Friday, November 21 2003 8:32:10

catching up

It's been a long time since I read Oates. I plowed through half a dozen of her novels in my teens (_Them_, _Wonderland_, several others) because my girlfriend liked her, and I was mostly pretty bewildered. These characters did not act like anybody I knew. (Had a similar experience with another of my girlfriend's fascinations, Anais Nin, at that point, then went through various other phases with regard to that curious person.) It's probably long past time to check her out again. (Was amused some years ago that Oates wrote a snippy letter to "Harper's" after Sallie Tisdale's cover essay about pornography, "Talk Dirty To Me," which later grew into a fine book by the same name, and Tisdale responded by apologizing for not being interested in more healthy, grown-up entertainments like, say, boxing.)

Can you keep a secret? I'm waiting on final confirmation, but the TV network tabloid show "Inside Edition" is proposing to fly me down to LA this Tuesday to tape an interview for a show they're going to do on the pervasiveness of porn in our culture.

Not exactly the forum I would have preferred for discussion of what I consider a serious and important book, and they've proposed a truly ghastly flight schedule for a long, grueling day that may result in no more than 15 or 30 seconds of national exposure, but in the promotion game, ya takes whatcha can get.

Jim Davis
- Friday, November 21 2003 7:56:9


No, you're not a philistine if you don't like Joyce Carol Oates. If you made a good-faith effort to read her work, and you found it tedious, well, then IT WAS, and that's that. Personal experience of art trumps the critical consensus every time, and it's ridiculous for anyone to tell you different. Now, I'm sure Oates has turned out the occasional stinker in her long career--the woman has written more books than God, after all--and it's possible those are the ones you picked up. It still doesn't mean you should discount your feelings, and return to an author you didn't enjoy.

Personally, I'm all about the pleasure principle when it comes to reading these days. Life's too damned short, and the list of great stuff too long, to willingly suffer in the name of ANYONE'S reputation. If a book doesn't work for me within the first fifty pages or so, I put it down and move on. Why be a martyr? (Hairshirts are just SO passe. If you want to live like an extra in THE SEVENTH SEAL, however, then by all means, knock yourself out.)

- Friday, November 21 2003 4:23:9

Ah, at last we're talking about someone I've actually read. I like Oates. Gots plenty of fiber. (Though, like ATC, I wasn't all that impressed with ZOMBIE.)

And Anne Rice. I enjoyed INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE. And not much else. But, maybe that's colored by my anger when the above was being made into a movie and she had harsh things to say about Tom Cruise playing the role of Lestat (not that that in itself was the impetus of my anger; I mean I'm not that big of a Cruise fan even though he is kinda dreamy and he's just poured into that uniform in A FEW GOOD MEN...ahem...moving on). She had the "type" of actor she wanted playing Lestat and this is what annoyed me: She compared Lestat to Ahab in saying that Lestat was one of the great characters in literature and I just thought that was too too much. Trust me. I knew Herman Mellville, and, you, my gothic windbag, are no Herman Mellville.

Also, I probably should've mentioned this yesterday when the award to King was brought up, but I'm working my way through WOLVES OF THE CALLA right now and I am blown away by this conundrum: There are times when the writing is clunky, but then there are passages of such exquisite subtlety...This is a good book and if you haven't picked it up, yet, do so. Despite the clunky passages, this is a good book. I think he was actually hitting his stride in the 4th one (and seemed to hold up much better than the previous three the second time I read it) and it's good to see he's still making progress.

John Thompson
- Friday, November 21 2003 0:49:19

I'm surprised anyone would deem Joyce Carol Oates pretentious. Her work is concise and her language allusive. I'd invite the naysayers to sample "The Ruins of Contraceur" in Al Sarrantonio's 999 collection. It reads like John Updike meets H.P. Lovecraft.

Now, Anne Rice, on the other hand...

Los Angeles, - Thursday, November 20 2003 23:50:41


Could you post info on The Waldorf Convention? I hadn't heard of it previously.


Steve Dooner <sdooner#earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Thursday, November 20 2003 22:41:15

About fifteen years ago, I read the Oates story, "The Going Away Party," which fairly blew me away. Later on, I found out it was a chapter of her book, Marya, which was also a good read--kind of a bildungsroman. If anyone needs a starting point for Oates, I recommend the above story and also the oft anthologized, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been." Oates has written so much stuff, and in so many styles, that she has something for everyone.

Andrew <drew71@hotmail.com>
San Diego, CA - Thursday, November 20 2003 20:17:5

I'm chagrined to admit that I have yet to experience anything by Mrs. (Ms.?) Oates. One more author to throw on the ever-growing "Webderland Bookclub" reading pile. Sheesh... I'm never gonna get caught up.


Joel - Take my advice. If you haven't done so already, make an appointment for your license. You'd be surprised how few people take advantage of the service and how much faster it'll go for you. The DMV website is:

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Thursday, November 20 2003 19:19:10

Have only met Oates once or twice, each time so briefly I doubt it registered on her side. And I have not read MUCH of her work, at least not at novel length, but BLACK WATER was horrifying. (Also read ZOMBIE, but it did not register.)

Joel McLemore
- Thursday, November 20 2003 18:41:45

I like that she's into boxing. She pops up now and then on that HBO program about classic fights.

I've read a few things here and there--I think it's a little hard to get started with her because she's written so much.

I have to get my driver's license tomorrow. My first experience at the California DMV--not looking forward to it, but hey, maybe there will be some good material for future stories while I wait. I wrote for a while today so that was good.

Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Thursday, November 20 2003 18:29:35

Sowing Oates
I've only read a few of Joyce Carol Oates's stories and one book, YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS, and while the stories I read were okay, I loved the novel. I own several more of her books and fully intend on reading them, and others, when the time comes.

Her website is pretty cool, too. Celestial Timepiece or somesuch. Look it up. It has scans of manuscript pages that are quite interesting.

Take care,

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Thursday, November 20 2003 17:8:12

I have some info for you Piaf fans about the box set we've been discussing. Check out this link:

Never read Joyce Carol Oates, but that's the problem with having so many good writers running about; there's always a few you miss. And whenever we hear about Joyce Carol Oates, it's as one of those icons of the New York Literary Crowd, so for a lot of us, there's this gut-wrench suspicion that is _never_ borne out by anything she's actually done or written. (Susan Sontag has a similar rep. People seem to dislike her intensely without bothering to know anything about her.)

I've been promising myself a try at Diane Johnson and Martin Amis as well. But right now, I'm working my way through Casanova's memoirs (slow going) and the recently-republished edition of _Low Life_ by Luc Sante (much faster).

- Thursday, November 20 2003 16:32:32

I like Joyce Carol a lot. The woman AND the writer. In fact, I have a really cool photo of me and her, side by side, both of us having just accepted awards somewhere, grinning seriously, and obviously mutually pleased to be there, then. It's in a sweet and massively spiffy art deco glass-beaded frame. When, one year, I beat her out for an Edgar, she was the epitome of class in congratulating me. Yeah, I like her, and almost all of her books, too. Yeah, I do. Even with this ringing in my ears.


California - Thursday, November 20 2003 16:22:19

Dorie: Try again.

Dorie Jennings
- Thursday, November 20 2003 15:20:44

I TRIED to read Joyce Carol Oates, really I did. She's respected, she's won awards, many intelligent people think she's just wonderful. I just can't slog through her prose. Why's it OK for her to write rambling, barely punctuated sentences which are a page or two long? Aren't we taught not to do that? Does calling it "stream of consciousness" make it all right?

Call me a philistine but I just can't seem to appreciate her, and I've tried.

Jim Davis
- Thursday, November 20 2003 14:31:0

Correction . . .
On second thought, maybe *I* should check a dictionary, too. It IS possible to "condescend to the vulgate," though I still don't see how Oates's use of a pseudonym is evidence of this.

In any case, I'm with John K. Oates is a terrific writer, and she doesn't deserve the invective hurled at her.

Jim Davis
- Thursday, November 20 2003 13:47:15

Coleman, is that you, old buddy?

Vulgate means "common speech," so I don't understand how Oates can condescend to it. Not to mention you've failed to prove how her writing is cowardly in any way (see definition of "poltroon"), but since you probably haven't actually READ any of Oates's work, hey, why worry about using words correctly?

Oh, and am I the only person here who LOVES the notion of Harlan Ellison quoting Frank Church in his upcoming Chaos piece? Way to go, Frankee baby.

Frank Church
- Thursday, November 20 2003 13:32:30

Brian, I think I am sick. The day Chomsky finally gets on Charlie Rose, is the day I cannot watch television. Am away from home for the night; will miss it. Goddamn my luck.


Cindy, are you a lawyer? Thought you were a radio person.


In London, the pulling down of the Bush statue was cute. Not surprisingly, Michael Moore is in Brittania as well.

Susan, your people are great. I love the Brits.

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Thursday, November 20 2003 12:28:55

Well, it's apparent that John Updike's famous comment on Joyce Carol Oates is still relevant:

She has received some of the harshest scoldings of any major talent.

Shit, I'd be vain too, if I'd written "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Or FOXFIRE. Or EXPENSIVE PEOPLE. Or...

David Loftus <dloft59@earthlink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Thursday, November 20 2003 12:19:26

the magic of photography

Someone wrote:

> Terrific portrait photo of you. Tres elegante, mon ami!

Yes, it's amazing what they can do with CGI and retouching these days, isn't it?

terry eagletons a bum
- Thursday, November 20 2003 11:9:2

Joyce Carol Oates Writing as a Poltroon
I think Joyce Carol Oates is a very fussy conceited writer. Besides being a feminist and we all know that weighting whatever meager writing talent she has with a programmatic ideology does not make for worthwhile writing. Why does she have TWO names on her books? Doesn't it defeat the purpose of having a pseudonym if you have your real name on the cover as well? What does that mean? That this book is Oates condescending to the vulgate from the ivory tower at Princeton? She's a very vain person.

Dr. Harold Medford
- Thursday, November 20 2003 9:58:1

National Book Awards
The National Book Awards ceremony will be televised by C-SPAN2 on Sunday, Nov. 23:


Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
Chicago, - Thursday, November 20 2003 8:49:50


Thank you kindly for giving me the name and AIN for the Piaf set. Now if I only spoke French...

(By the way, the set is showing up on Amazon.com used for $112 used. Now that's tempting!)


- Thursday, November 20 2003 8:12:5

Is there any place on the web to read the contents of King's speech? I'll look myself, too, but if someone knows a source off the top of their head, I'd appreciate the heads-up.

PS: is anyone else as tickled as I am that Berkeley Breathed is going to return to the Sunday funnies??? Can't wait to check in with Opus!

- Thursday, November 20 2003 7:31:46

In addition to Chris' remarks...

I was one that didn't think King should accept the award because of the comments of those that bestowed it upon him. It was quite obvious they were doing this for publicity and to goose sales. Not there's anything wrong with that, I just think they could've given it to King for much better reasons.


Upon reading some of King's comments and listening to him on NPR yesterday, it is apparent that he is using this award and this recognition as a soapbox to address what are some valid concerns with the way these awards are handed out. So, yes, kudos to King. And I think he still should've told Hazzard she was fulla shit, but he's obviously a nice guy. Writers and critics like Hazzard, who close their eyes and their ears to something *they* deem not worthy, are missing the boat on this one. Who knows if anyone will be reading any of these folks a hundred years from now, but I guaran-fucking-tee you, (some of) King's work will be read. Not Grisham and not Clancy and certainly not Mary Higgins Clark, but I'll bet you King's stuff will be read. (And a fanboy nod that Ellison's work, Harlan, not just Ralph, will be read a hundred years from now, too.)

Barney Dannelke <dannelke01@enter.net>
Allentown, - Thursday, November 20 2003 7:31:20

*** Cindy ***

My standard e-mail is the one posted above. Additionally there is also vze4mxws@verizon.net which is a bit of a sobriety test to memorize. I attempted to contact you via your yahoo account but that mail queue is full, thus the squandering of this bandwidth. I have left additional contact info via a message for you on the ellison bbs. Failing all of that, administrators of this forum, and about a dozen other people here have all my contact info. and may give it to whoever they wish. - B.

Chris M. Barkley <cmzhang56@yahoo.com>
Middletown, Ohio - Thursday, November 20 2003 6:52:4

Kudos for King!
A heartfelt kudos to Stephen King for his remarks last night at the National Book Awards ceremony.

He stated that the National Book Foundation should continue to build bridges "between popular fiction and literary fiction" by not making his honor a mere token due to his popularity. "I am begging you not to go back to the old way of doing things," he said.

As for Shirley Hazzard's remarks that "I don't regard literature ... as a competition. It is so vast, and we have this huge language." She is dead wrong; she seems to be oblivious that there is an unspoken, insidious competetion going in publishing
circles that excludes the likes of Theodore Sturgeon and our gracious host and other fine writers that we know and love from the stature afforded to say, William Faulkner and Nadine Gordimer.

It would be in the best interests of the publishing industry to heed King's wake up call; there is no place for their sort of elitism in a culture that expouses diversity as one of it's crown jewels of freedom.

Now let's hit the streets...

Chris B.
Middletown, OH

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Thursday, November 20 2003 6:51:52

Harlan: Thank You!
I tried writing a fancy thank you, but it didn’t work out.

Please just accept my sincere and unvarnished thanks for the marvellous book.

You have certainly succeeded in your desire to return equal value for the Piaf music.

Beyond that, I’m completely tongue tied.

Joe Finn,

In France, the set is called ‘Intégrale 40me Anniversaire’. Elsewhere it’s called ‘L’Intégrale Accordéon’. For both versions the ASIN is B0000AKPR1, and the packaging looks pretty much the same. I picked up Harlan’s copy in euros when the set was initially released, so the price + shipping was reasonable for a 20CD/10Disc set. The price has climbed steadily since it’s release. In currencies weak against the euro, it has gotten kind of crazy.

- Thursday, November 20 2003 1:26:17

Not that anyone was paying attention...

But I misunderstood David in my last post. It had taken about 9 hours for the signal to reach my brain. I was supposed to be reading important bank information when it struck me, "I wonder if I misread his post". Now I ought to go back and see what the bank was trying to tell me.

- Wednesday, November 19 2003 23:15:50

First, a kudo in the general direction of Cindiana "Perry Mason" Jones, for the fine job she did in court.


You may now go about your normal, daily business.

I was talking to my crazy friend earlier this evening, and we got around to the subject of Michael Jackson. He told me Jackson was a disgrace to all self-loathing, psychotic, deviant mutant alien transsexuals everywhere. I think he may have had a point. Even if the latest allegations aren't true.


John Thompson
- Wednesday, November 19 2003 23:1:50

The recent discussions on anger, particularly the last couple of posts, leads me to ask if anyone here is familiar with the work of J. Krishnamurti. I resisted reading him because I was led to believe he was a "mystic." In my opinion, it was an inaccurate label. Krishnamurti, who came from and finally rejected the guru tradition, stressed the importance of observation, to see the truth in a particular situation and not blind ourselves with wishful thinking. The problem with unobserved anger, anger that is not understood, is it is a blunt instrument, equally capable of harming friend and foe.

I remember Harlan once saying that he waits a few days, or perhaps even longer, before sending a vitriol-laden letter, to see if his anger still burns after a cooling off. It's not a bad idea to do this before speaking, too.

TEXAS - Wednesday, November 19 2003 21:2:27

They arrived and stole my breath. They're absolutely beautiful!!! You REALLY shouldn't have... but I'm glad you did.
THANK YOU. Now HELP!! I've lost your email!! If you have mine please, please email me so I can respond in greater detail.

you're SUCH a peach,
yer pal,

I haven't forgotten the assignment on Mystic River- -but I just got back from federal court in San Antone. I cross examined 7 witnesses presented by " the agency". It seemed to go off swimmingly-- the Judge said it will be four or five months until she makes her ruling... which could be good or bad, I reckon. The fed's attorney shook my hand afterward and said I did an excellent job. THAT could be good or bad too, eh?

Meantime we put the other side through their paces and made them sweat for the priviledge of firing a faithful employee of 43 years and 11 months. I didn't put my mom on the stand.

I'll try to get that assignment in tomorrow... did I blow the extra credit?


- Wednesday, November 19 2003 20:52:35

Oh good heavens... At this very moment Paris Hilton's good name is being ruthlessly slandered in the press, her very HONOR being called into question, whilst every fifteen-year-old in the country spanks himself into apoplexy over these appalling video clips of hers! How anyone can even THINK of anything else at a time like this is beyond me. Oh, oh, I feel faint. That poor girl. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm very upset...I'm just going to nip off and, uh, write to my congressman. (Eef you know what I'm saying.)



Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Wednesday, November 19 2003 20:51:4

Missing Gore Vidal on Charlie Rose is yet another reason to buy a Tivo. But all is not lost: on Thursday night, Rose has Noam Chomsky on the show.

Velvet <myemail@isnotforspammers.com>
City of Omnipotent Drizzle,, State of Fatigue, Country of Ye Olde Maple Leaf - Wednesday, November 19 2003 17:20:28

Some Thoughts, Coloured by Personal Experiences Through the Years
Firstly, my apologies for the length. I'm trying to prune it down, but my editing abilities seem to be impaired tonight. :)

Secondly, thanks for the course correction, Mister Ellison and Joseph Finn. My Internet search abilities are as freakish as ever they were. Good to know. :) Thanks also to Ray Carlson, for posting the relevant Bad Signals excerpt we were looking for.

What occurred to me, after I had spent my one post quota yesterday, was that I wanted to answer Alex and Paula's posts, regarding anger and its usefulness (or lack thereof) to the ordinary mortal. If you would permit me? (If anyone present is egregiously offended, or bored to the point of tears, ask Rick to take my post down. I won't mind.)

It looks, to me, as though many of the parties involved in the non-event are mistaking two very base, yet superficially similar emotions: Anger, and injustice. The two are not one and the same, nor are they interchangeable, in my experience.

Anger can be destructive, physically, mentally, emotionally. For the angry person as well as the person or inanimate object which provokes the anger in the first place. It fractures relationships, business ventures, marriages, family structures, and all the other basic social constructs we surround ourselves with just so we can convince ourselves we're more than thinking monkeys. Anger, when employed, is the nuclear armament of psychological warfare.

Injustice, on the other tentacle, is a different sort of emotion altogether, even though the initial bursts of both appear to look and feel similar. A sense of gross injustice can sometimes have much more positive results, if the feeling is applied correctly. That is, if the initial cursing-and-kicking-the-family-pet (or throwing books at televisions, for those like me, without animal companions) burst of energy is rerouted towards rational thinking about the situation one finds oneself (or somebody else) in, and determining exactly how and when to extricate oneself (or somebody else) from said situation with a minimum of the above-stated casualties being incurred.

(There is also an insidious form of false injustice, usually employed by social workers and those with lethal doses of codependency issues; you'll recognize them from bulletin boards across the Internet, as well as in real life, by their knee-jerk inclination to "speak up for the oppressed" or taking horrified offense at everything as their default state of operation in the world at large. These are not the people who created political correctness; they are the ones who ENFORCE it. With dour humourlessness and complete lack of irony. I'm not speaking of this misplaced pity when I say "injustice".)

Having read a lot of our patron author's writings over the years, both fiction and non, it seems to me as though injustice is what he's out to remove from the world. Sure, he may make it a practice to fillet and barbecue the cluebies of the world, but it's never struck me as being malicious, or ill-intentioned. It comes across as being nothing more and nothing less than a sporting event, and he is certainly not the lone individual amongst the whole of science fiction fandom who engages in it. Hell, a WorldCon is practically the Olympics of such entertainments.

(Catch a reasonably intelligent "fan" the wrong way, or at the wrong hour of the morning, and you're liable to be greeted with far worse rejoinders and/or putdowns than some of the atrociously funny shit I've seen the Grand Masta H. Salt, Esq. unleash on the unsuspecting. Albeit, it seems to be done by these others out of an overarching need to prove superiority, or just sheer pigheaded glee at the ability to make others uncomfortable or feel inferior, as compared to their self-inflated godlike mental prowess.)

What sets HE apart from the others mentioned above (again, this is my subjective opinion only), is that HE doesn't go off at random on unsuspecting passersby who might verbally slip up and stick their foot firmly in mouth and swallow audibly, nor does he seem to engage in such sparrings with any of the maliciousness or poor self-esteem issues I've seen on display elsewhere. Anyone he's taken to task on the forum, have been asking for it. Literally, in some cases. "Begging to be barbecued by the butcher of the Internet". Or somesuch shit. HE obliges. Can't blame him. It's all in good fun. Which doesn't qualify it as "anger", in my opinion. (What?! This many words in and she's still on-topic?! The horror, the fear!! ;)

Alex, you mentioned that you never write as quickly as you do when inspired by your anger. Somehow, anger does not come through when I sit reading even the "angriest" of the small portion of the Ellison bibliography that graces the wall behind me.

Throughout the tapestry of years that makes up my life, I have often made many unkind remarks and posted snarky or sarcastic responses, motivated purely by the white-hot heat of anger. Moral of the story? It comes back to bite you in the ass, every single time. (What Paula said about picking your battles. Seconded.) Seeing what is clearly an injustice and taking steps to eradicate it (calmly and with a level head), has gotten me further along in the machinations of my life than any fricasseeing of the fractious has. Regardless of how much fun the act of preparing a well-done fricassee of newbie might be....

Which can be applied to writing, as well, in my experience. Pounding out epithet-laden diatribes in the heat of the moment may be helpful (of some redoubtable therapeutic value, perhaps), but in the end it doesn't do shit for the situation in question, or do anything towards resolving the situation in question. If there even is a situation in question in the first place. What pisses one person off may not piss off another, and likely will only engender confusion and/or derision in the reader subjected to lengthy, drawn-out eviscerations of it.

Now, if you're writing fiction in the the white-hot heat of anger, that's another thing entirely. It doesn't seem that one would get anything usable by starting from such a place. (You say you get quantity, but do you get quality?) Funnelling your initial reaction of injustice towards presenting something otherwise familiar to the reader in a different light and from a different perspective, in order to bust through their preconceived (but woefully incorrect) notions, that's useful, in my opinion.

All of which has little to do with Warren Ellis' Bad Signals message, HE's response thereto, the response thereafter, and Alex and Paula's posts following the initial flurry. The collective thread just sparked off these meandering ruminations, and I thought maybe someone else here might be interested in discussing it. If not, that's cool, too. :)


Frank Church
- Wednesday, November 19 2003 13:10:51

Gore Vidal was on Charlie Rose last night, and it was a hot one. Charlie asks Vidal if there is anything about today's America he likes, and Vidal says NO. Charlie seemed flabbergasted. Vidal was real grouchy, which is always fun. I'm a bit more idealistic then Vidal, but it was fun television.

Now get ready for Michael Jackson teevee 24/7


Sorry, Lynn.

Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
- Wednesday, November 19 2003 10:48:41

Harlan & Lee Thompsen,

Not be be an annoyance, but what is the actual title of that Piaf set? Seemed we had some confusion over what the full title when the set was being talked about in the first place, and I never did see an exact resolution of the issue.

Regards and Thanks,

- Wednesday, November 19 2003 10:38:55


1) Apparently, the reason you couldn't pull up my post to Warren
Ellis is that whatever e.mail address it was that Ray Carlson included in his original advisement, which was the one I used, it was a personal one for Warren, and not his bulletin board chatroom. So the exchanges of conversation -- including our mutual agreement to meet and sup together next time he's in LA or I'm in London -- went to him directly, and he didn't choose to transship them to his public forum. (I'm assuming all this, but it sounds right.) If'n you want to read it, you can suggest to Mr. Ellis -- politely -- that he might reprint it where you can find it, if it's of any consequence to you.

2) TONY RABIG: It arived yesterday late. I, like you, have no
bloody idea what could have kept it so long in UPS sluggish transit. We'll honor your request for the "proper" recompense, but it may turn out to be TWO books, not one dual edition. The publisher is talking about various packaging schema, but however it manifests itself, you'll get everything. MANY many many thanks!

3) LEE THOMPSON: holy gadzoley betty spaghetti! The Piaf box
arrived late yesterday, as well. It's gimunguous! It must've cost you a fortune! I know you said it was a gift, dear heart, but ... well ... uh ... I'm utterly flabbergusted and unmanned. Susan and I doodled with the idea of saying thankyou in proper gift form, but couldn't think of anything you might want, besides the autograph in Sophie's paperback. But we finally came up with a suitable oblation. Easton Press, the hardcover limited edition house, did an elegant buckram-bound edition of DEATHBIRD STORIES some years ago. Filled with gorgeous full-color plates by Jill Bauman. We had saved a couple of copies against the inevitable need for providing one to a special venue, and we've mailed it off to you already. I signed it to you, and to Sophie, so she can have it when we're both gone. There is no thankyou commensurate with the grandness of your gift, but perceive me struggling toward such an asseveration.

Oh, and as long as I'm here: David, thanks for the newspaper photocopies. Terrific portrait photo of you. Tres elegante, mon ami!

Yr. pal, Harlan

Earl Wells
- Wednesday, November 19 2003 10:9:1

Thanks for responding to my inquiry about the Ellison bibliography, FINGERPRINTS ON THE SKY. Please continue to keep us posted and encourage Tim Richmond to do likewise. I'm really looking forward to that book. I'm sure it'll be a significant piece of scholarship and a good read.

I'd love to go see "The Waldorf Conference," the upcoming play about the beginning of the Hollywood blacklist, mentioned by Susan here and in her newsletter. But I’m not even on the right coast. If anybody out there gets to see it, please post a nice long report.


Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
- Wednesday, November 19 2003 9:12:49


That's because it only came out on Mr. Ellis' mailing list, Bad Signal. There's nothing more or less than has been posted here.


Barney Dannelke <dannelke01@enter.net>
Allentown, PA. - Wednesday, November 19 2003 8:10:3

Warren Ellis site / sites.
Okay, I'm having the same problem as Velvet. I seem to have found the main Warren Ellis site and the blog but as of yesterday [after Harlan's most recent post] could not find a Harlan post in the blog or through the site specific search engine or in the "obvious" parts of Puny Humans Must Die website. I'm sure this is a case of bad karma or purloined text but if somebody wants to post a http or shoot me a link I would very much appreciate it.

- Barney

ps. Earl - At the moment I don't know. I just yesterday mailed about 1400 .jpegs [on a CD-R] of various Ellison book/pulp/fanzine and magazine covers to Tim for possible use. I say "possible" because these were mostly captured off the net and may not be of high enough resolution for reproduction. At least if my hard drive takes a hit three years of captures are now backed up. - B.

Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL - Wednesday, November 19 2003 7:1:18

Harlan Calls Warren

bad signal

Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 16:57:35 EST

A bunch of little things all thrown together:

Thanks to all the people who decided to play "let's you and
him fight" after my mention of Harlan Ellison in the last Signal,
I've just had an extremely pleasant conversation with the
man, who, unsurprisingly, didn't have a problem with almost
everything I said. With the one caveat that his heart is not, in
fact, held together with garden twine and Lego, and that he's
doing fine. Always nice to make a new friend. And to know
that not everyone is conditioned to perceive an attack
whether or not one is presented.

Christmas, as those in societies who celebrate it will be
horribly aware, is now some five weeks away. Do me a
favour this year. Grab your Yellow Pages and find a local
charity that provides the children of homeless families
with presents. If you're anything like me, you've got a stack
of books, comics and graphic novels that you neither
need nor want. Sort out the kid-safe ones and get them to
that charity. You'd be doing a good thing.

- Wednesday, November 19 2003 6:52:32

"Harlan Ellison is a mind whose time is fine."


"Typewriter coolcat, bongo beat on the keys, daddy-O!"

- Wednesday, November 19 2003 1:58:28


"I haven't yet figured out how to get past the idea that everything I write is "just made-up."

I still don't completely grasp why this is such a roadblock for you so I'd like to pitch one more idea: I'm sure you remember conversations in which you used analogies to make a point. An analogy is a comparison of specific similarities between things which are otherwise unlike. In terms of its objective I often think of the story as pretty much the same thing...just longer. It's like a loooooong analogy.

Likewise, we play with metaphors as a verbal or visual construction to infer something else. (Interestingly, a metaphor can express an analogy; but an analogy can be expressed non-metaphorically.) Either way we're putting together concepts that infer something other than what they are. It seems to me if the brain accepts that process it can handle and finesse the concept of the STORY.

If you can make an analogy, you can write a story. That may be a little simplistic - since the components of a story encompass so much (including the things I rattled off) - but it does remove several psychological barriers, which is all THIS analogy is meant to do. It works for ME at any rate. Others might just settle with, "my brain doesn't work that way."


"The kind of teasing Jim indulged in here did not strike me as particularly honest".

Respectfully, I'm not so sure I agree with that. When I took a whiz on Jim, it was sarcasm but generated from real feelings which I think were accurately conveyed. If I'm being honest with my feelings...well...I'm being HONEST. In fact, I think if I'd posed my response to Jim in some straightforward fashion ("May I kindly ask what your conclusions on this fine subject ARE, Mr. Jim?") - after reading his lines (I mean basically the same thing over and over) it wouldn't have been "honest" at ALL. We can argue about the appropriateness of the ribbing all day; but it certainly side-stepped any facade. Sarcasm: a bit like the point I was trying to make with Chris about inference, it CAN convey an honest emotional reaction. Occasionally, it's the only way to do it.

On the other hand, I bring this up because the more we're pressed to ask ourselves about honesty the more I think about what Harlan really meant when he said, "I think about it a thousand times a day". It has many dimensions. More than I was giving it credit for. It may not just mean "well, that's just what I meant" or "that's how I feel", since our consciousness is shaped by so many things assaulting us every day (externally and internally). We're often led astry by emotions, by misinformation, personal biases and complexes, stereotype images, too much fuckin' testosterone, and so on. That wraps lots of wire mesh around the definition of honesty.

This thread hasn't been a waste. I'll be thinking about it more -in many different scenarios.

Jon Stover
Canada - Wednesday, November 19 2003 0:49:58

By 'this very page' I meant 'the page I'm posting from with the links looking at me from the left-hand corner.' Oh, you'll figure it out. Cheers, Jon

Jon Stover
Canada - Wednesday, November 19 2003 0:45:54

Unh, Lee...
Lee, I think the Asimov quotation you're thinking of is probably two clicks away. Go up to the 'Biography' link on this very page and click on it. Then click on 'Isaac Asimov on Ellison.' Voila!

Cheers, Jon

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 23:22:31


When I used the term ‘classless hurtfulness’ I was responding to Ellis’ suggestion that Harlan’s heart trouble is a self-inflicted side-effect of his own poor anger management skills. As though it was Harlan’s own emotional incompetence that not only screwed up his productivity, but also brought him to death’s door.

‘And look at the guy now. His cardiac muscle is held together with garden twine and Lego.’

I guess I read too much of my own experience into it. Subsequent posts clarify that Ellis is just a clumsily admiring imitator gleefully chopping the style of his subject, running a riff on Ellison’s famously emotional connection to the world around him.

But his image of a heart about to pop like a water balloon brought to mind a conversation I had with my grandmother right before she died. I was about 16, and when I got to be alone with her she was several days from death - quietly lethargic - but she was lucid and I remember holding her hand while she just lay there and drank me up with her eyes. Suddenly she said, ‘I still feel like I’ve always felt. I could be twenty-five today. Only, honey, my body’s falling apart.’ And she started to cry.

Any thinking adult should understand that certain topics can be very charged, and that invoking them in the name of ‘honesty’ or ‘humor’ or ‘well meaning criticism’ is an uncertain business that is best avoided altogether. If Ellis wasn’t deliberately hurtful, he was certainly careless. Harlan is at a time of life when you do look back and question whether you’ve run the good race, when you do feel the clock ticking down, when you do feel the sadness of really knowing that it’s not going to go on forever.

Ellis’ article struck me as an awful, flippant, familiar delivery of some very personal criticisms. If he really felt that he had to bring those topics up in public, an artist of Ellison’s caliber, who has delivered the goods so consistently over such a long period of time, deserves to be treated more respectfully. I wish someone could find the Asimov quote on the same topic and post it here. Maybe by reading it Ellis could learn that it’s possible to say much the same thing but with a gentleness and respect that avoids nastiness without pulling any punches.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 22:18:41

Re Warren Ellis' comments. I didn't see anything in Ellis's comments that looked even remotely like a slur. Maybe that's because I'd said something vaguely similar to Harlan some months ago; someone here was busting his chops, he replied with the customary Howitzers and blunderbusses, and I'd said something about how ignoring such things was probably good for keeping the stress levels down, especially given Harlan's health in recent years. Harlan's reply was that he _enjoyed_ venting at creeps, or something similar. The exact words are, of course, buried in the archives somewhere. And who am I to deprive the guy of his pleasures?

So warren Ellis's note struck me as being in the same general spirit of consideration concern, and nowhere near a slight against our host.

That said, I shall now go to sleep, and maybe tomorrow I'll have a chance to look at theDVDs I blew cash on today: the Two Towers extended version, the latest _Mystery Science Theater_ collection, and Cronenberg's _Naked Lunch_ nicely done by Criterion. Oh, and I picked up the latest Spectrum anthology of fantasy artwork, which is a consistent joy for me. Maybe my own mood will improve. I've been feeling extremely blue these days.

Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
Chicago, IL, - Tuesday, November 18 2003 19:1:49


Don't sweat it - Warren Ellis sent out a note on his Bad Signal mailing list today that he had spoken to Harlan, and they're cool. Really, it's not a big deal. I just didn't want your searching skills to seem off; there was actually nothing on warrenellis.com or diepunyhumans.com (Mr. Ellis' blog).


Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 17:51:24

"Harlan is just a cool cat who simply happens to have a typewriter."

Could you be a little more reductive?


Velvet <yeahright@igotyouremailaddressrighthere.com>
City of Puzzlement, State of Confusion, Country of the Damned - Tuesday, November 18 2003 16:44:58

Okay, even my preternatural search skills can't turn up the Ellison tidbit on the Ellis site. I searched through all of the main site, and the only area of the site that seems to allow public posting is diepunyhumans, the blog. Searched through there, both with the sucky search engine, and manually, for the blog entries of Nov. 18, and if it's there, my poor, work-strained eyes just ain't seeing it.

The Warren Ellis Discussion Forum over on Delphi is apparently now a thing of the past. Cursory search of ezBoard reveals that Warren Ellis' name comes up on virtually every single comics-related board on that server, but that's no surprise. (Most of the Delphucked crowd migrated to ezBoard when the Oracle of Delphi started going Norman Bates on us.) Makes it exceedingly difficult to find the one ezBoard that's "official" for Ellis. If there even is one. Which I doubt.

Please be advised that all of the above activity did not span more than twenty minutes, and I am actually about to log off my computer right now.

(Hopefully this disclaimer will forestall any mental images of me as a crazed stalker-groupie hunting down every last word of, by, and about, Ellison on the Internet. Hell, I gave that shit up when I was fifteen. Doesn't everyone? ;D)

Anyone have this link/more info? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone at all? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?


- Tuesday, November 18 2003 15:43:29


"Harlan Ellison is one of the finest minds of our time."

No, Stephen Hawking is one of the finest minds of our time. Harlan is just a cool cat who simply happens to have a typewriter.

David Loftus <dloft59@earthlink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Tuesday, November 18 2003 14:8:50

a liar's guide

After another day to reflect, I can see that perhaps I overreacted to Jim Hess’s posts, and he just might possibly have sought to spark and enliven conversation. But I think he should own up to the fact that he might not have approached this task in the most considerate and potentially productive manner, seeing as how several people managed to read his remarks as disrespectful. He asked us how important honesty was, and then proceeded not to be honest: he wouldn’t tell us where he is coming from, he refrained from offering any substantive input, and he picked up his ball and went home.

“To be honest” means to take responsibility for what you write and its effect upon others, the good and the bad, as well as merely to send the stuff out. The kind of teasing Jim indulged in here did not strike me as particularly honest.

Turning to Jim’s original question, I didn’t find it terribly interesting or thought-provoking, in itself. Everybody knows the answer, though we can quibble for weeks about how to phrase it. Far more difficult, and interesting, than “how important is honesty?” it seems to me, is “how do I achieve honesty?” (as opposed to, say, playing to the gallery primarily, or reaching automatically for clichés) and – in my mordant moments (like now) – “what difference does it make?”

Chris L. has big qualms about “lying.”

I’m not sure what your teacher meant by saying: "Your job is to tell lies to losers." There are at least two ways to take that. There’s a very positive one: your job is to create comforting sagas for the downtrodden, tales that inspire and instruct. And there’s at least one negative one: your job is to tell people only what they want to hear.

So I think this points up a complexity far beyond “you must be honest” or “you must tell lies.”

> Richard Walter, head of the screenwriting program at UCLA,
> advises screenwriters to "Lie through your teeth." Of course,
> he also claims "Screenwriters must embrace authentic
> self-disclosure, no matter how painful, as the organizing
> principle of their creative lives." Is he just saying everything
> he can to justify a continuing teaching position despite a lack
> of actual writing credits or is he sincerely trying to describe
> the dichotomy that most writers must confront? I don't know
> which.

It isn’t one or the other, Chris. Any decent fiction will inform you that storytelling thrives with paradoxes. Paradox is enshrined in the very language – our poor attempt to capture the richness and complexity of reality with these clunky tools called words. My gloss on Walter’s remarks would be: Self-disclosure is vital to art; it is almost unavoidable, especially if you desire to create something truly meaningful and significant; BUT in order to make it work best, you must gild the lily, cut some corners, fill some other spaces -- all sorts of imaginative adjustments that we will call, for convenience, “lying.”

I think it is in chapter 13 of The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles, which I cited earlier, that the narrator says accuses the reader of lying too. We misremember our pasts, forget critical details, make up tidy stories to explain them. We are all storytellers, fabulists . . . in a word, liars.

So, just as Luther urged Peccave fortiter (sin with gusto; if you must), I say: Lie with Gusto!

Tracy Garnett
Ludlow, Kentucky - Tuesday, November 18 2003 13:36:45

No kidding? Sounds like Mike Meyers has lost his stride....

The Ellis comments impressed me as being Johnsonian, for lack of a better comparison. They were the words of one who deeply reveres Harlan Ellison, but the need to be objective--together with a heaping entre of good, old fashioned conceit--brought the apples down on his head. What came across was "You're tremendous, William Shakespeare. I can't praise you enough, so let us take note of your bad breath." In the end, what spit wads he did shoot were as superfluous as Calgon on waterford crystal.

Harlan Ellison is one of the finest minds of our time. Those are hard credentials to improve upon. Were it not for his essential humanity, I never, EVER would have been able to access _Deathbird Stories_, or _Angry Candy_, or _Memos From Purgatory_. No, he would ultimately wax obsure in the bowells of some collegiate text (I won't go there) while kneeling acolytes eagerly await the canonized waifer to be placed in thier dumb, beseeching mouths. That kind of papal treatment has butchered Swift, Trollop, and Dickens. Most people won't touch John Milton with a ten foot long Cliff's Notes. It's hard to communicate, intrinsically, with a crowd that has dozed off.

Frank Church
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 13:14:8

Good for England for sticking up to that rogue Bush and protesting his ass to the teeth. Bet he is hiding under the Queen's skirts as we speak.


Brian, meow.

P.A. Berman
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 12:44:10

Several things:

Of course I agree, Alex, that fighting the good fight is worthy and noble. I even think tilting at windmills is worth doing at times, if only just to show some resistance towards the institutionalized bullshit of the world. HOWEVER (as I've gleaned from hard experience), there are some fights that are simply not worth fighting. You cannot win, nothing will change, your enemy will crow at your defeat and be more firmly entrenched than ever, leaving you drained and bitter. Some fights, I am trying to learn, are best dealt with by walking away. It's be hard for me to know when to fight and when not to, since my inclination is always going to be fight-- but is that always the best, wisest, sanest, most productive option? I thought that was what Ellis was saying, that some fights take more out of you than they achieve in real good, and I think that's a position worth considering.

Brian: Is there really nothing you can do about the cat allergy? I understand you don't like the buggers, and that's probably not going to change (although I suspect if you met my cats, you'd be miraculously transformed... ah, but I digress). But if this issue is really preventing you from dating, because all the hot spinsters have kitties, you might want to consider something. Acupuncture? Over the counter stuff? My best friend is violently allergic to cats but he's gotten used to his one cat. He takes an OTC med when he visits me and it seems to work OK.

Re: telling lies to losers: Isn't that what sells? If I had a nickel for very character who gets amnesia, has an evil twin, finds perfect love happily ever after, wages a righteous war against an evil dictator, wins out against all odds, beats City Hall, wins the big game, etc., I'd be able to retire. Writers who want to create something meaningful seek to avoid these cliches, but look at the big hit movies, the top selling paperbacks, the TV melodramas (and the evening news). A lot of writers do set out to sell lies to losers, and these are lies that people seek out, the same way they seek out McDonald's as comfort food. It does NOT go without saying that all writers strive for honesty. It really depends on why they're writing.


Joel McLemore
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 12:14:17

Something is Rotten in Whoville.
Hey, is anyone else saddened by this Cat in the Hat movie? I think someone in the Geisel estate must have passed away, because I know they were very strict about how his work was portrayed all through the Nineties. But now Mike Meyers is the Cat in the Hat, coughing up hairballs.

And even if the movie is otherwise respectful, it's sad that a generation of kids will probably remember The Cat in the Hat as a movie. I think some things just shouldn't be messed with, but that's a mindset that just seems more and more marginalized as time goes on.

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Tuesday, November 18 2003 12:5:22

I can't find the Ellison response on Ellis' page either. I wish I could! I'm sure it would be instructive.

I did find the Ellis comments sort of offensive, not because they attacked Harlan! Ellison! in particular, but because they seemed defeatist. Why live in a state of constant stress? Well, because to live is to war with trolls, or so I've been told.

I think we all would have loved even more Ellison fiction, but the fact is the guy has published a huge amount of it anyway, despite the battles. I think Ellison's confrontational nature and tendency toward standing up for things come from the same place his fiction does. That he has energy to spare. And that however embarrassing the titles of "gadfly" and "enfant terrible" are, they're just words, and are a price worth paying. Ellison has maintained his integrity and courage, and that's an extraordinary and inspiring thing.

- Tuesday, November 18 2003 11:52:3

Ellis in Ellison
Funny thing about outspoken types - sometimes they say something confrontational. Go figure.

I agree with Ellis in the wonder over what could have been put to the page had that additional energy spent on championing the Right been focused on the craft. I wonder that, too. I wonder how many short stories would have been created had the indignation or outrage over something not distracted from the inspiration to create another twenty pages of fiction. Taking it further, how many opporunities to create were lost sitting in a court room or chomping on about the latest troll in the Pavilion. Sure, but that assumes that Ellison is just a writer. That's kinda like saying Martin Luther King was just a public speaker.

I'm sure any writer worth his paycheck could sit in front of a computer or typewriter all day and night and constantly draw metallic rainbow goodness from his or her ass if that's all they were designed to do, and I think Ellis makes this assumption about Ellison.

Perhaps Ellis is wondering about the number and nature of SOME of those conflicts and is considering what could have been created instead of sweating "the small stuff"?

Of course, the same could be said of Ellis. How many comic book reinventions could we have seen if Ellis didn't have his own 'blog to maintain? Perhaps we'd have more Avatar press books with his Lovecraftian/Noir stories? Who knows?

TEXAS - Tuesday, November 18 2003 11:26:9

Awww, damn-- and I just sent the guy an email.

Here is what I wrote...

Dear Mr. Ellis,

While your observation of Harlan Ellison as a magician of prose would be indicative of at least a single solar flare of awareness, your comment regarding " garden twine and lego" ( lego?) advertises your unfortunate lack of understanding to be further complicated by a lamentable deficiency of manners.

But do take heart, Mr.Ellis, the term "gadfly" is something you need not concern yourself with, neither should you risk losing "endless days and nights" kicking against terminology that will never pertain to you. The quality of your correspondence here leaves scant doubt that your presence will be of as little consequence as a doggy nini gnat, worthy of less than a twitch, let alone a swat.

It would appear that it is not yours to question the manner in which a man like Mr.Ellison lives his life when you would spend yours endeavoring to slight your betters and laying waste to the concept of common decency in an average man.

Cindy Jones

Okay, I know NOBODY needs help with this kinda thing LESS than Harlan, but I couldn't help myself.

Frank tomorrow I'll give you that run down on Mystic River ( and ah DO mean run down)

In the meantime,I'll be kickin' at pricks myself tomorrow. My mother's attorney on her wrongful termination suit took her money and dropped the case so tomorrow I have to speak on her behalf and cross examine witnesses at a hearing in San Antone.

Wish me eloquence and wisdom and the ability to cool it.


Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Tuesday, November 18 2003 11:0:45

Ellis Site?
OK, I don't know about you guys, but I don't see any place on Warren Ellis' website that involves communications from other parties....such as Harlan's response. Can someone provide a link?

As for his comment supplied by Ray Carlson: I saw nothing wrong with it. Not everyone with opinions needs to bow down at the feet of Harlan in respect to all that he chooses to do and write....that would result in a very dull world. Warren's 100-year old comment was just some creative jibing; not some horrid, disrespectful jab at an enemy for doing what comes natural (as long as we stay away from dangerous crosswalks, nuts with guns and knives, and falling space shuttles).

In a way, I asked a similar question of Harlan about a year ago: does he ever get so frustrated with the AOL battle and just want to throw up his hands and say "enough!", I can't fight for what's left of my life. It's not worth it....I have things I have to do.

Harlan didn't find me disrespectful when I asked that.....and I don't see Warren Ellis' jibe as disrespectful either.

Besides....what's so bad about being disrespectful? You guys and gals are disrespectful to President Bush. Rush Limbaugh (forget the drug addiction, I recall a few "he's gone deaf? If only he would die" comments). I've been disrespectful of both Clintons. If I had a large platform to pursue my disrespectfulness of anyone I loathe, I would certainly not shy from using it, and neither would any of you.

So, even if Ellis was being disrespectful.....it's his right, ain't it?


- Tuesday, November 18 2003 10:9:47

...and yo, Ray Carlson, 's kewl, dawg. Everthang be copa an' setic. Eff anyone wanna geddinta this thang, I be down wi' that.

One hundred year old Harlan

- Tuesday, November 18 2003 9:58:28


For anyone curious, I have handled the "Warren Ellis" matter with a posting at his website. You may venture thenceward if you so choose.


Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL - Tuesday, November 18 2003 7:21:22


I hate to do this, but looks like I'm gonna have to, as Desi would say, esplain my decision to post the Warren Ellis quote. First, I in no way, as stated earlier, wished to stir up shit or get a rise out of Harlan. I don't operate that way. I posted the quote because I thought it was of interest not just to Harlan but to all of you, and worthy of discussion and dissection. If it were just a hurtful hatchet job I never, ever would have passed it along.

I feel Mr. Ellis articulates some valid, thoughtful points as he looks inward at himself and measures what he sees against that of Harlan Ellison. Obviously, Ellis admires Harlan very much or he wouldn't be using him as a benchmark or measuring stick. Sure, some of his mild criticism is a bit too pointed, but like Harlan, Ellis is not one to pull punches. It is what I like and admire about both men. In fact the thing that attracted me most to Harlan as a person and then as a writer is his straightforward, no-nonsense, no-holds-barred approach to life. He is honest and forthright, with himself and others and takes shit off no one. HE is willing to fight to the death for what he believes is right. He's a guy you would want as a friend and beside you in a foxhole. But, the battles do take a toll and Mr. Ellis is merely asking the question, is it worth the time and creative energy. I believe it's a question Harlan has asked himself many times as we all do.

Alex Krislov <Alexkrislov@cs.com>
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 7:13:43

Warren Ellis
The amusing thing about Warren Ellis' comments is that this is the guy who created Spider Jerusalem. While Jerusalem is inspired by Hunter Thompson, he evokes Ellison. He often sounds like Ellison. And his social activism resembles Ellison's far more than Thompson's (although his drug intake and clowning around resembles the Thompson of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"). Spider Jerusalem is the polar opposite of what Ellis espouses in those comments. He's a dedicated activist, a man who is willing to burn out rather than fade away.

That said, I don't think Ellis' comments are particularly nasty. He plainly admires Harlan. He just doesn't want to be Harlan. But there's more of Harlan in Ellis' writing than Ellis is acknowledging--at least, here.

Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Tuesday, November 18 2003 6:18:1

Harlan & Susan,

According to UPS tracking site, the package is out for delivery, so you should get it today. Where it was for 4 days between Lenexa KS & Vernon CA is beyond me. Sorry it's taking so long.



Dorie Jennings
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 5:59:49

Ellis comments
First I'll admit my ignorance: I don't know anything about Warren Ellis. But the quote below doesn't seem to me to be an attempt at getting a rise out of HE or anyone else. It's pretty mild criticism. OK the "hundred years old" comment was snotty and uncalled-for, but what I see in that paragraph is grudging admiration. Despite what the guy says, don't you get the feeling he wishes he were doing the same? And this is maybe his excuse not to?

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 5:55:19

Posting this, here, is the tactical equivalent of tossing a handful of pennies into a spinning drier to hear them bang.


Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Tuesday, November 18 2003 5:13:20

Truth, Lies and Social Darwinism

Truth and Lies.

If you have ever seen the Blair Witch Project, you will know exactly why screenwriters should lie. The most terrifying thing about that film was the improvised dialog showing the pathetic, impoverished way in which the youth of America converse: "I'm fuckin' scared, man! Fuck, I'm fuckin' scared! I'm so fuckin's scared, Man!"

Yes, this is the unvarnished truth. If you actually wrote reality as it is, it would be tedious beyond endurance. That's why Orson Welles always went for an aesthetic that was "not real but true."

As for telling the truth behind a mask, just put on a mask or a tie on a Superman cape and within seconds you'll know why lying, feigning, faking, frauding have always been a road to deeper truths.

It seems like this question might be from the department of questions that go under the heading, "If you have to ask. . ." Sit in front of a typewriter for five minutes, and you'll start to realize this stuff.


Now as for all this Social-Darwinist crap about herds. Stephen Jay Gould would say that the species must be preserved as a whole. That's what makes the species really strong--its genetic diversity. We can never know when the weakest or poorest member will contribute something that saves the race. Competition occurs between one species and another. Sure their are alpa males and females, but they can't exist without those betas and gammas. And since LaMarck was proved wrong, it isn't the amount of information you learn at college that makes you more viable, but actually the superiority of your brain's design. There were probably some real Einstein Neanderthals who never got to pass along their genetic material because they were Stanley Steamers in a Model T world.

Grow one potato across a state and you'll wind up killing all your potatoes the minute a blight strikes. Domestic herds are always susceptible to disease. That's why information must occasionally come from the outside.

Thank you. I'm all out of potatoes.

Steve Dooner


rich <rweems@arczip.com>
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 5:12:3

Chris asked, "Is he just saying everything he can to justify a continuing teaching position despite a lack of actual writing credits...?"

Sounds like it.

And I don't think Ray should have posted that Ellis missive. Doesn't contribute anything to anything other than to try to get a rise out of HE. Ellis' statements should engender nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders.

Hoping Rush will have a relapse,

Chris L
- Tuesday, November 18 2003 2:34:21

Brian wrote:

*I don't think anyone here would reply, "No, honesty isn't important at all. Lie like hell, *

I'm sure you're right about the fine folks at the forum but a lot of people, including people who are in aposition to advise writers, say just this thing.

As a teacher of mine (an Oscar nominated screenwriter no less) informed the class "Your job is to tell lies to losers."

Richard Walter, head of the screenwriting program at UCLA, advises screenwriters to "Lie through your teeth." Of course, he also claims "Screenwriters must embrace authentic self-disclosure, no matter how painful, as the organizing principle of their creative lives." Is he just saying everything he can to justify a continuing teaching position despite a lack of actual writing credits or is he sincerely trying to describe the dichotomy that most writers must confront? I don't know which.

I haven't yet figured out how to get past the idea that everything I write is "just made-up." This idea doesn't seem to bother the other people in the program and I admit it may simply be a clear indicator that I need to try something else. Still, I jumped into this program with the idea that I could tell the truth and I'm certain good writers can do that. Perhaps this is a defining characteristic separating the good writer from the mediocre or bad writer.

Mr. Alex Jay Berman <alexjay@earthlink.net>
Philadelphia, - Tuesday, November 18 2003 2:33:34

P.A. BERMAN: I'm on the Ellis mailing list as well, and the bit Warren put in about Harlan put me off.

You ask, "how much effort should a thinking, creative person expend kicking against pricks?"

My answer, from the simple, black-and-white world I often find myself living in: AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Even if it's only in the smallest of ways. And there are whole smattering of "Because"s for that answer.

Because there are too many of them, and the herd must be culled.
Because, if not for the thinking, creative people, who else would? And who else would have the chance to do so with any modicum of success?
Because it keeps said person from him- or herself BECOMING one.
Because it makes it easy--yes, even when bloodied, with split lip, boxed ears, blackened eyes, and aching gut--for said person to stand tall and straight and smile in the mirror.
Because they CANNOT be allowed--and they have too often and too much been allowed--to take over.
Because in doing so, one enriches one's work and one's life.
(Personally, I don't quite get what Warren is saying--for myself, I never have written so much or with such passion than when I have been driven on by anger. My two fingers move across the typewriter faster than all ten of a precision secretary's, the thoughts come pouring out and coalesce into well-wrought words, and my brain crackles more with a divine electricity than ever it has when I am not, perhaps, in the midst of an epileptic seizure.)

And another "Because" ... When you have spent a life jabbing out the angry foot at the asinine, the lying, the mendacious, the greedy, the backstabbing ... then the moments when you can throw back your head and laugh carefree become all the sweeter.

And one last.
In no way to I think of myself a saint. But I think to a day I hope will come soon, when I shall have a wife and home and child to raise. I'm not delusional enough to think that I'll ever be able to tell my daughter, my son, that I never backed down.
... But I'll forever do my damndest to work this life so that one day I can tell them that I never backed down when it MATTERED.

LEE: I didn't get the feeling that Warren was in any way trying to be hurtful; he just was WRONG, is all.
(And the man HAS often gone out of his way to acknowledge Harlan as an influence)

- Tuesday, November 18 2003 0:41:10

MORE than enough has been submitted in the Hess case…but, well, you know how it is:

Right off I want to apologize to Harlan and Jim for the direction things took

My criticism of Jim’s rhetoric was MEANT to be light-hearted in spirit. I wasn’t angry; I did get caustic and smart-assed but I wasn’t trying to hand him to a burly 17th century hangman. Harlan, the problem, I feel, rests with the point you made: "Jim was asking a question…a question I ask myself a thousand times." Well…Jim’s aim SEEMED to me - and Jim, REALLY, correct me if I got it all wrong - rather the opposite: he’d formulated conclusions and kept coming back with the equivalent of, "NONE of ya got it!" We INVITED his input (please recall I told him in my last post that it "may be as substantive as anyone else's"). But he seemed too preoccupied with his game (which no one was playing) to elucidate…

and that’s FINE…except he bedecked it with cockiness…and so I countered in jest. I HAD to kid around with him.

I didn’t want you to get trashed on, Jim. I just wanted you to put the breaks on what I perceived as bullshit and contribute what I’m sure would have been worthwhile. And I don’t want you to split. You have Harlan behind you so you’ve no reason to take off. (I feel, in the name of integrity, we should all scroll back through our posts, myself and Jim included, to see how our words really resonate; it wouldn’t be the first time we’d found they didn’t deliver quite what we had in mind.).

Isn’t this what dialogue is about?

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Monday, November 17 2003 22:40:3

Ellis’ comments display classless hurtfulness burning through a screen of badly faked pity.

And the message is illogical enough that it really doesn’t deserve direct comment.

But it does fuel the eternal and unquenchable brushfire of criticism that burns around the feet of the truly unique.

Ellis, in his own small way, is just doing his part to prove that everything he is saying about Ellison is wrong.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Monday, November 17 2003 22:12:1

Re the Jim Hess question. I don't have any regrets about busting on Jim's question-- sorry, Harlan, but his comments about our replies not being what he'd wanted struck me as more than a little swinish.

Consider that first question, i.e., "How important is honesty to a writer?" Right off, it's a loaded question: we think honesty is an important quality in damn near _any_ context, and I don't think anyone here would reply, "No, honesty isn't important at all. Lie like hell, misrepresent, make up shit, libel decent people, tell people stuff you don't believe in, be disingenuous and nasty and false as much as you like." So Jim's telling us that the answer he'd _wanted_ was, in all likelihood, the simplest and easiest and least challenging answer to give.

So there really wasn't much point to his asking-- but his reply, about our failing to come up with some "right" answer-- indicates that his "point" had little to do with obtaining advice or information.

I will pass along a somewhat frustrating thing that comes out of _my_ honesty, namely, my cat allergies. Y'all know I don't like cats very much, and the fact that their dander makes me spill a Niagra of snot doesn't help things much. So if I'm trying to meet someone, maybe with an eye for dating or romance, I have to be a bit wary about the presence of cats.

HOWEVER: When I browse the Personals, nearly all of the nicest profiles list "My cats," _plural_, as something they couldn't live without. I mention my cat problem in my profile mainly because I'd rather not have that item sprung on anyone later on. And half the time when I contact someone nifty who doesn't _mention_ their cat, they see my profile... and then I get a message that starts, "Before we go any farther, I have to ask you about your cat allergy, because my cat is..." I try to be as polite as possible. But those conversations never get past the cat-clarification stage.

Needless to say, I haven't had much luck through the Personals. (My photo's also pretty horrible, too.) Aren't there any decent, intelligent, personable single women out there who don't own cats? I mean, I wouldn't want to pursue someone who owns a cat, knowing that if the relationship turns serious, I'd have to ask her to part with her companion. That'd be _cruel_. So out of simple decency, I have to shut myself away from a lot of otherwise wonderful, intelligent women.

(Don't suggest allergy shots. I dislike cats anyway, and I don't have health insurance to pay for it.)

Steven Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Monday, November 17 2003 21:40:13

The Importance of Being Too Earnest

Whenever I post, I really worry about when I start to become a bad date--You know, the kind that goes on all night long about politics or about stock options.

I think it's good that most posters here are in earnest. It is a good antidote to the ephemera that fills the web, but we should never become a group of sour, hypercritical MackFlecknoes.

Ever go to a comic book store and ask a simple question about say, in what Spiderman issue Gwen Stacy got killed, and then endure a barage of condescension? Usually, this is a person who ONLY knows what issue Gwen Stacy got killed and who is also determined not to tell you without subjecting you to utter disdain. Well, I would hate to be subjected to that here.

Now, I realize I am also one of the worst offenders when it comes to overlong, over-serious political diatribes, but I do try to let a little light in every once in a while.

I don't know why I wrote all this, but I will say I always appreciate when you folks add a little wit and humor to your posts. I myself was born without a humor gene, so I will bask in the genuine wit of others.

Steve Dooner

P.A. Berman
- Monday, November 17 2003 18:27:50

Warren Ellis poses a worthy question: how much effort should a thinking, creative person expend kicking against pricks? Should we hoard our energy and use it only on our solitary pursuits? If you are possessed of a certain nature, is that even possible?

I'm no saint, but I find myself wasting FAR too much of my time and strength fighting against wrongs I probably cannot correct (don't forget, I work for the government) on the slight chance that I might make some modicum of difference. I have wondered at length how much more productive I'd be if I chose my battles more carefully, or avoided seemingly senseless conflict altogether.

Yeah, it would be great if I could have the wisdom to know the difference between tilting at windmills and heroic battles. But if I did, I wouldn't be me... and I suspect the same is true of Harlan Ellison. I know I'm flattering myself by the comparison, but those of us who live by the motto "incrementum ex certamine" do suffer a hemmorhage of time and energy, considering the superfluity of pricks that need kicking in this world. Sometimes, the only reward is knowing that you tried, and the ensuing exhaustion can provide an inspiration in itself.

If you're lucky.

If you're not, you wind up with bloody knuckles and a bad rep. Usually, it's a toss up. I wonder what Harlan thinks, considering he's been kicking at pricks roughly twice as long as I have. Mr. Ellison, are you glad you've been an "enfant terrible," or do you wish you'd walked away a little more often?

My two cents (and notice, I didn't mention Jim Hess ONCE!),

Oscar Wilde
- Monday, November 17 2003 18:2:25

"All bad poetry is sincere"

- Monday, November 17 2003 16:54:19


If anyone is interested in the event, I'll post the event info (ticket price etc.). This should be an amazing evening.

- Monday, November 17 2003 16:52:14

Not to mention the fact that a writer has to live *some* kind of life in order to add some flavor to their writing. Ellison has created some of my favorite Cajun cuisine, I ga-rawn-tee! Harlan Ellison writing without living Harlan Ellison's life would just not be the same.

And, let's lay off Jim Hess, shall we?


- Monday, November 17 2003 16:50:29


Tickets are selling for THE WALDORF CONFERENCE (November 24th)but, they will accept "walk-ins" on the night. James Cromwell has been added to the cast.

All best--Susan

Steve Jarrett <sjarrett@aol.com>
High Point, North Carolina - Monday, November 17 2003 14:27:42


The sheer novelty of your decision to post a comment about Harlan Ellison here on the Jim Hess bulletin board inspires me to respond in kind.

What interests me about the comment you quote from Warren Ellis is its assumption that the life lived by a writer is separable from the work produced. We may like to entertain the fantasy of Harlan having retired to an ivory tower to produce dozens of additional volumes of golden prose over the last few decades, isolated from the travails of "endless days and nights of kicking against pricks." I would submit, however, that it _is_ just a fantasy, gratuitous and baseless. Because I don't think anyone who reads Harlan's work could doubt that it is those very travails that inform, in large measure, his best work. I would venture to say that if he had, in fact, written reams of prose from an ivory tower instead of remaining connected to the rest of humanity, the work he produced would likely have been sere and lifeless and scarcely worth the reading. At least by comparison to what he has actually written during those years. The analogy that comes to mind is this: what if someone were to bemoan the fact that we could have had so much more Twain to read if Sam Clemens hadn't wasted all that time learning to pilot a riverboat? Nice fantasy, but it just doesn't scan.

Steve J.

Joel McLemore
- Monday, November 17 2003 13:58:52

I wasn't aware I was being graded on my answer, I just thought he posed an interesting question and that we each gave our thoughts on the matter. I guess he did come across a little pompous but that's hardly something to get all bent out of shape over.

Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Monday, November 17 2003 13:20:28


Went by UPS, and if their tracking site is to be believed, you should be getting that sucker some time tomorrow.

I'll check tracking again late tomorrow morning & post on whether they've got it marked out for delivery.



Frank Church
- Monday, November 17 2003 12:46:19

I must be the only one who didn't notice the Hess comment. Didn't bother me at all. Let Hess explain himself, and we will hold back on the ritualized dunking tank.

Hess, give us all the 411 my brova. We are all long winded, but we come in love.


Cindy, you have the Richard Roeper gene. Mystic River is a great film. Go see it again. And, you are not getting away with it that easy. Go to the other board and explain your fault with the film--frame by frame.

That be your homework assaignment, young lass. Yeeehawww.


Aanold is Govner, and Rush is back on the air, as full of hot air as always.

Uncle Sam needs his penis flogged.

Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL - Monday, November 17 2003 12:24:14


Below is a reference to you by Warren Ellis from a much longer e-mail message I just now received (I'm on his "Bad Signals" mailing list). Not trying to stir-up trouble, just thought you might be interested in his comments.

Quoted from:

bad signal
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 14:19:49 EST

"If I use the word "monkeymass" to describe a vocal section
of the comics "fan" population online, I invoke Harlan
Ellison, who used the word first in my experience. And
there but for the grace of god. The guy's a hundred years
old, but you can still read of him described as an "enfant
terrible," often simply because his personal sense of what
is right is unquiet. Who the hell wants to be an enfant
terrible at thirty-five? It's embarrassing. Who wants to
be a "gadfly," which is how, if I recall correctly, Ellison
described his own journalistic works when he was my age?
It invites swatting. It invites a constant expenditure of
your strength against the lazy palms of people too stupid
to tie your shoes. And look at the guy now. His cardiac
muscle is held together with garden twine and Lego. When
on his game, he's a magician of prose, and I imagine he's
won almost every significant battle he's fought. But I
can't help but wonder how much storytelling was not done,
was lost through endless days and nights of kicking against
pricks. I mean, you read about them in his essays, and I
sit there thinking, why did you elevate these people simply
by gracing them with your time? Why live in a constant
state of stress?"


- Monday, November 17 2003 12:21:12


Tony, by what method did you send the book? We still haven't received it and are now getting a little concerned.

Please let us know. Thanks. --Susan

Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
- Monday, November 17 2003 11:7:6


Thanks for letting us know that your mother is recovering well! My fingers and toes are crossed, friend.


Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Monday, November 17 2003 10:54:40

We Didn't Mean No Harm

I approach this post with a great deal of trepidation, still suffering discomfort from the retina burn left over from reading your dismissal of Coleman. I know I’m just a punky little johnny-come-lately, but even so I don’t want to be banished. Being able to participate here means a great deal to me, and I try my best to participate constructively. With that said:

Far from trying to discourage Jim Hess from participating, most of us were rather wishing – more or less rambunctiously - that he would participate more.

It’s not accurate to say that all he did was ask a question. He also posted the following:

November 14 2003
Harlan: Much appreciated, your quick and succinct reply regarding honesty in writing. As to the other replies, have you noticed you actually sidestepped what I asked? Some went from honesty to truth. Some suggested honesty, but by way of honesty not in writing but other things. And some suggested honesty as lies.

Think about all of it, folks. I will get to the point. Soon.

November 15 2003
As we are allowed but one post per day to this arena, let me make mine short and quick: So far, of all the replies--thank you very much, by the by--only Harlan's comes close to what it is I am getting at, with regards to writing.

Stay tuned. And do post.

At this point Rob and I teased Jim because most responses in the thread of discussion were playing off of Brian Siano’s interesting observation that you have also said that you are a paid liar - but Jim seemed to think we were all trying to guess what he personally thought about the importance of honesty in writing, and that we hadn’t made any headway.

Well, Jim didn’t take that well at all. Rob and I apologised immediately. But his sour grapes walk into the shrubbery after all that about how he would get to the point real soon just brought out the devil in us. And what do you expect? Webderland is filled with Ellison fans! A bunch of eclectic, mischevous, contentious, argumentative but basically good-hearted hell raisers.

If you just say what you think, and you are sincere about it, no one involved in this pitiful fracas would have had anything meanspirited to say. But if you start toying with us as a group? Expect the unexpected.

Rick Wyatt <rick@rickwyatt.com>
- Monday, November 17 2003 10:39:51

"So far, of all the replies--thank you very much, by the by--only Harlan's comes close to what it is I am getting at, with regards to writing."

I don't know, Harlan. This statement strikes me as being a little too mysterious and condescending. I would probably be insulted, and feel as though someone was playing games with me, if this was the response to my genuine attempt to answer someone's question.

However, if being cryptic or pedantic were a capital crime here, I'd spend half my time burying the bodies.

As wont as rest of you folks are to address the opinions of others by suggesting their holders are unenlightened or unmeritorious, I hardly think Mr. Hess is deserving of your censure. I would suggest allowing him the space to explain himself (and he is more than welcome to post once more today should he desire) before dragging him off to Jack Ketch.

DTS <none>
- Monday, November 17 2003 10:34:3

Chiming in on Jim Hess
HARLAN: I completely agree with you regarding any rudeness displayed in the last day or so. But...as I tried to say privately to David Loftus (his email address wouldn't work), I understand if some folks went overboard when addressing Jim Hess -- especially if they had the same experience I had with the man. My animus toward him stems from about a year ago (or longer). It was shortly after (or perhaps around) the time Hess ranted about the racial attitude of those who put on the World Horror Con 2000. He went off on a new visitor and I (thinking I had established some sort of rapport with him via private email, especially after turning him on to a book dealer in KC who had JUST the book he wanted) made a joking aside about Hess being grumpy in the mornings or somesuch. His childish, idiotic retort revolved around his wish that I would die soon because I wouldn't be missed. Needless to say, I wrote him off.

Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps no one else on the board had a run-in with the "other" Jim Hess. But I wanted to tell you my experience, on the off-chance that one or two of the other regulars may have had similar encounter. Which would explain any long-festering, bad feelings.

Your bud in KC,

Peggy <trbotongue@aol.com>
back in the UK, - Monday, November 17 2003 10:6:17

Thanks for the kind thoughts and prayers Melissa, Lee, Dorie, Jon, Chuck, Joseph, and Cindy (and any anyone else I've missed, or heck, even anyone who thought kindly but didn't post it like I often do). It's helped over the last week or so.

My mom is recovering well from the surgery and I should have news tomorrow about her long-term treatment and outlook. Also, we seemed to have moved to at least a 2 week planning schedule (as opposed to every few days) which brings a little more stability to our Fugawian existence.

Thanks again....

David Loftus <dloft59@earthlink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Monday, November 17 2003 9:49:34

I stand my ground

In my considered judgment, Harlan, Jim pulled a sort of bait-and-switch on us, and has assumed a pose of superiority that more than one of us on the list took as insulting, and that's why we responded as we have -- individually, I might add, not as a pack. I really couldn't care what anybody else wrote in response to Hess; I responded from my own perspective.

Mr. Hess may be a fine person, and an excellent writer -- I would have no idea; I do not know the man -- but in this particular instance, he posed what appeared to be an interesting and engaging question, then appeared to condescend to us after we participated in a discussion of what we thought was a chat among equals . . . only to learn that Mr. Hess "knew" the answer all along and was mostly just testing us.

I didn't say this earlier, but it also struck me as a new and ingenious method of kissing your ass, Harlan. "All you benighted souls are off the mark, but Mr. Ellison has the key -- all congrats to him for being a smart boy, unlike the rest of you."

Sorry, but it rubbed me very much the wrong way. I certainly didn't wish for Mr. Hess to leave the board, either; I'm always up for more discussion. He just didn't appear willing to engage in discussion, but only to condescend, and he's the one who grandiloquently announced his departure, unbidden, after we had "failed his exam."

It still stinks to me.

- Monday, November 17 2003 8:42:35

I am appalled at your behavior toward Jim Hess. Those of you who have assailed him for what seem to me misguided animus and cryptic transgressions, ought to be ashamed of your Ox-Bow lynch mob mentality. As far as I can tell from reading all that has gone before, he is innocent of all save asking a question ... a question I ask myself a thousand times. Shame on you, each of you, but especially you, David Loftus. You are much too fine a person to act in such a niggardly manner.

I hope Jim Hess is NOT driven away by this sorry display of rudeness.


David Loftus <dloft59@earthink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Monday, November 17 2003 8:15:38

Monsieur Hess, Esquire

> Here is, I think, a clue to the answer: The answer
> Harlan Ellison graciously posted is the closest to
> the answer *I* was looking for.
> Good luck. I hope you find what you are looking for.

I don't recall that anyone came on here looking for "the answer," or even "an answer," except Mr. Hess himself. I don't recall signing up for a workshop or paying money to Mr. Hess to enlighten me in the mysterious ways of the pen and keyboard, such that he should assume the right to address me or anyone else here as if he were our superior, in a forum where we customarily address one another as equals.

Thanks for so graciously enlightening us, Mr. Hess, but thanks even more for leaving.

What an asshole.

Brian again
- Monday, November 17 2003 6:18:23

Argh. No sooner do I use my one-post allotment than I come across this _Guardian_ article about Jean Cocteau and Edith Piaf. So, I gotta give y'all the link:


It begins:

"Edith Piaf and Jean Cocteau died on the same day. Cocteau, chivalrous at the last, obeyed the rule of ladies first. "Ah, la Piaf est morte," he said on the morning of October 11 1963. "Je peux mourir aussi." [Ah, Piaf's dead. I can die too."] And then he promptly died of a heart attack. Or so legend has it."

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Monday, November 17 2003 6:8:56

Jim's comment makes me raise another point: how important is honesty in asking questions?

It's one thing if someone asks a fairly profound question, such as "How important is honesty in writing?" One should expect to get several replies, provided in good faith.

But it's another to get these replies, and then announce that there was some hidden "correct" answer that we were apparently expected to match. Then it becomes an ego-game, where the "questioner" asserts a higher knowledge or status.

And Jim's comment about the answer he was "looking for" indicates that his original question was _far_ from honest. After all, if he had an answer that he was looking for, then why ask us in the first place? And if he had such an answer, then he clearly came to us with some presupposed notion of what we were to say.

All in all, a very dishonest performance from Jim Hess.

rich <rweems@arczip.com>
- Monday, November 17 2003 6:1:32

As usual, Rob can't for the life of him, respond without getting a jab in here and there (yes, yes, I see the irony in even making that statement, but I must, nay, am compelled to state it), HOWEVER, in his own convoluted way, I agree with Rob (and Lee) that this is not a RIGHT or WRONG answer---at least as we've been discussing it---but only a matter of degree in how strongly one feels regarding honesty in writing.

Basically, Harlan said you cannot have writing (actually should be prefaced with "good") without honesty, but I would surmise, Jim, that most people responded not only to your query, but to Brian's ruminations on the subject and the paradox that it entails.

So we're all winners. Just like those losers in Special Olympics.

- Monday, November 17 2003 1:2:6

Correction: "But I think each of us - myself included - imparted HIS own observations".

- Monday, November 17 2003 0:47:4

Jim Hess,

With all due respect...

(And I am literally posting all this with a smile)

C'mon. Loosen up and stop pouting. How could I resist taking a shot at a line like, "So far, of all the replies--thank you very much, by the by--only Harlan's comes close to what it is I am getting at".

I mean it does hold what you might call an air of hubris. And, man, am I fanning the air.

The simple point is I don't think anyone was trying surmise whatever point YOU were after. I don't think anyone was trying to find this "clue" of yours. You keep posting with some notion that we're playing this game. Like, "god, let's really try to figure out what Jim wuz a gettin' at". Several people submitted some excellent and valid comments on the topic. But I think each of us - myself included - imparted our own observations. It's not a subject encompassed by one definition. Honesty? It's a subjective dynamic. A guy lives. This guy, if he has the talent, communicates the impact life has had on him; the inner condition he aspires to reach or strives to tear from. He looks in - not out - to lay bare the connection between him and what he has lived. (This is true of all art forms, btw, not JUST writing)

So...this wasn't some competition for that free trip to Bali (which I'm sure is where you'd love to send me). I believe everyone was examining the question from their own viewpoints, regardless of what you had to submit. If you have your own angle on the topic go TO it. It may be as substantive as anyone else's. But if you want to walk off in a huff, unaccountable for the language you chose to use (inviting a few ribs), that's absolutely cool as well. I doubt we'll be feeling left hanging. Because I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Dooner's comments. I don't feel "empty-handed" at all.

"Here is the clue to the answer"!? I don't give a fuck.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Sunday, November 16 2003 23:3:36

Apology to Jim Hess


Please don’t be offended if some people, including myself, have poked a little fun at the way you have persued this question of how important honesty is in writing. I find your behavior over the last several days to be strange, but I know you are just trying to contribute to interesting discussion like the rest of us. Please accept my apologies if I have offended you. I didn’t mean any harm.

The problem I have with your assertion that Harlan’s answer is *closest* to what you were looking for is that I don’t see any answer more definitive than the one that he gave. Your question ‘How important is honesty in writing?’ demands as a response a statement concerning degree of importance. Harlan answered, ‘How important are lungs in breathing?’ i.e. Writing as he defines it does not exist without honesty. It is absolutely fundamental to his craft and is of the highest possible degree of importance.

Where do you go from there? How can that be only *close* to the answer you were looking for, unless you think that honesty is not as important in writing as Harlan thinks it is? I hope you will elaborate on what you’ve been dangling in front of us without actually saying for the last week, and not back away from the discussion. I am honestly interested to hear what you have to say.

Jim Hess
- Sunday, November 16 2003 16:57:32

All right, here is the short of the long regarding the question previously posed here--how important is honesty in writing: I have decided, having read the replies posted here, that I am going to leave the answer to greater minds, including 'Rob'.

I won't go, though, leaving you empty-handed. Here is, I think, a clue to the answer: The answer Harlan Ellison graciously posted is the closest to the answer *I* was looking for.

Good luck. I hope you find what you are looking for.


James C. Hess

- Sunday, November 16 2003 12:38:42

Cthulhu Beanie
Todd~ That was me. The Toy Vault not only has the Christmas Cthulhu (complete with bells on the tips of his tentacles), they also have Summer Fun Cthulhu (straw hat, hawaiian shirt, sandals). He looks like a retiree from Ft. Lauderdale. It's great!


Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Sunday, November 16 2003 10:44:14

Cthulu Beanie
Hey Lynn, were you the person on this board who used to beam with pride at your Cthulu beanie baby, or was someone else? Regardless, I recently saw the same beanie baby all decked out for Christmas. It wasn't someone's idea of a joke, it was an official Christmas Cthulu.

Just thought I would give you the head's up in case you didn't know about it.


Earl Wells
- Sunday, November 16 2003 8:13:2

Fingerprints on the Sky
Tim Richmond, Barney Dannelke, and/or anyone else who knows:

What is the status of the Ellison bibliography, FINGERPRINTS ON THE SKY?

John Thompson
- Sunday, November 16 2003 1:53:37

Honesty in writing as a topic in itself seems almost unanswerable. I think we'd be on surer ground if we gave some concrete examples, both the good and the bad. James Patterson, in my opinion, is a dishonest writer. Why? Because people are not as simple as he makes them seem. He has attorneys, for instance, mouthing Kindergarten-level dialogue. One female protagonist, I kid you not, when asked what she looks for in a man, replies, "Someone with soft hands."

Am I the only one tired of needlessly complicated plots? "Aha, the killer is really the podiatrist...and a vampire!" In Patterson's work, plausibility goes out the window. Perhaps I sound particularly bitchy, but I've rarely read a book so dumb that I wanted to hurl it against the wall.

Simplicity in writing is often an admirable display of craft. Ray Bradbury and John Collier say much in few words. Reading Patterson's work, on the other hand, makes me feel like I've lost several precious braincells.

- Sunday, November 16 2003 0:36:32

You can find the strangest things at roadside gift shops on the edge of the known world (also known as Palmdale, CA). There were only two, and I bought both of them. Aren't they bizarrolicious? (SUSAN~ Make Harlan take a look at the last link. It's *right* up his alley.)




and for those of you who require better lighting (i.e. snapped with the flash on):


Jon Stover
Canada - Sunday, November 16 2003 0:26:15

Oh, for the love of the ever-bleedin' Christ, I don't recall Jim Hess pulling any such hornswoggling or grumpifying as he's being accused of.

On the other hand, I'd like to apologize to Peg -- because of my scattershot reading of your post, I managed to express worries about your cat without bothering to express worries about your mother first. I hope everything turns out fine.

Take care, Jon

Joel McLemore
- Saturday, November 15 2003 14:47:49

Mystic river take my mind....
I haven't seen MYSTIC RIVER yet...I enjoyed the book and am wondering how much was changed. I'm probably just going to wait for video. I'm still pleased that it's doing well because hopefully more people will buy Dennis Lehane's work...I think his latest, SHUTTER ISLAND, would make a great film. Maybe someone will get around to noticing George Pelecanos while they're at it.

Best film I have seen this year by far is AMERICAN SPLENDOR.
Actually, there's not much else that has come close. We're strapped for cash so we see most things at home now. I'm not really that interested in MASTER AND COMMANDER--I really doubt I'll see anything else until RETURN OF THE KING.

- Saturday, November 15 2003 13:35:25

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith Jim Hess...

As we all failed so wretchedly in our competition for the JIM HESS PRIZE FOR WRITING, the ONE award to elude even HARLAN (by earshot), we await Hess' words with gnashing of teeth, sweat, and forrowed brows.

Soon the dark will turn to light; Jim's words shall surely illuminate us like the rays of a new dawn.

What, one must wonder, will it all mean? Will it be some divine manifestation of the Galactic Federation of Light? Arcane teachings from ancient scrolls? Long forgotten studies by the grand overlords of the Anunnaki?

Or will Jim unveil sercrets so shattering, so terrible that those who hear it cannot live?

Whatever the price, Jim Hess, we anxiously await the curtain to be drawn so that we may be enlightened by your great words.

For in the hierarchy of ideas we are humbled. We KNOW nothing. We ARE nothing. FREE us, Jim. FREE us of this miry clay.

Revelation...is at hand.

- Saturday, November 15 2003 13:34:16

Stay Tuned
JIM HESS: "So far, of all the replies--thank you very much, by the by--only Harlan's comes close to what it is I am getting at, with regards to writing. Stay tuned"


TEXAS - Saturday, November 15 2003 13:23:17


I'm so sorry to hear about your recent troubles. I'll pray that things turn out to be better than you expected or planned and that your Mom will make a full recovery.
When you wrote about the person whom you considered to be a close friend being mean to you-- I felt sad. Nobody needs to be wounded, particularly by those they care deeply for.

Hang on, things will turn around soon, I'm certain of it.

Steve Dooner,

I sympathize with everything you conveyed in your post about Veterans Day. I did not know about any moratorium on the coverage of memorial services-- if that is accurate then I'm with you, it's bullshit. If we as a nation are going to send our sons and daughters off to war then we should be REQUIRED to see, close up, the bloody coin of the realm we're dealing in.

I believe that the unspeakable things Saddam inflicted on those helpless souls for years made it necessary for him to be driven out at the very least. If oil was the impetus for our charge up the hill then I am grateful for the oil. We should have done it sooner. We as the most powerful nation on the planet sink to the level of those who silently witnessed Kitty Genovese's murder when we see things like this and do nothing.

I thank you, Steve Dooner for the kind and careful way you worded your post. I have never considered you to be an adversarial soul. Your messages are frank and factual. Your political tendencies and mine are polar opposites but your quick mind and your honest observations-- are of enormous value to me. I like to have new perspectives to consider-- folks like you and Frank help me to gage the underpinnings of my core beliefs. For for that and for you, I am enormously grateful.

When I read what you wrote, " I have enormous respect and admiration for you, Cindy. " I was deeply touched and honored.

I feel the same about you, Steve Dooner.


Hey Frank,
Your farting on Mary comment was like a smack in the face for attention grabbing. I give you 10s on it.

yer pal,

Last night I went to see Mystic River which should have been called " Toxic Sludge". It was too deep-- too damned poignant (emphasis on the "G") and too easy to call. I usually love Clint Eastwood's work as a director. This one was way over done. The visuals were laid on with a trowel-- and on at least one occasion, I (literally) had to close my eyes on a spinning shot to keep from getting sick.

Not ONLY did it not live up to all of the hype, we're talkin' stink here. As in carry it out of the house and put it in the OUTside trashcan. If Mystic River had lips it would make sucking sounds.
Yuck, yuck- OH and YUCK.

Of course that's just MY opinion.


THANK YOU Brian, I will invest the four bucks to see Master and Commander on the big screen at the Odeon and I will look FORWARD to getting the nasty taste of Mystic River out of my mouth.


Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Saturday, November 15 2003 11:23:16

I don't know what Jim Hess is after, but I haven't responded to the honesty string because I think Harlan put it so succinctly, why beat the horse? I'm eager to see where Mr. Hess is going with this.


Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Saturday, November 15 2003 10:41:13

Hokay, I saw _Master and Commander_. We all know the conflcited loyalties one has when one sees a film based on a favorite book, or books. We _want_ to see a film that does the book verbatim, that captures the characters the way we saw them, or maybe illuminates them in ways we couldn't imagine when we read them. But, a film's got to work as a _film_. It's got to attract the allegiance of an audience that would never read the book. It's got to get the job done in two hours.

As a film, _Master and Commander_ works wonderfully. Russell Crowe's fine as Jack Aubrey, though he's a bit more "geroic," and less John Bull-ish, than I'd imagined Aubrey. The naval battles are amazing, accurate, and terrifying. The film dwells a lot on the day-to-day details of living at sea, which means us O'Brian fans get to wallow in one of the books' best points. There are more than enough of the books' "high points" (Stephen's deck-surgery on a mate's brains, the nighttime decoy, Aubrey's dinnertime wit, Killick's toasted-cheese) to make us fans happy. And the film tells a good, fine, self-contained adventure story that should satisfy moviegoers.

In other words, the only faults I could make require me to say how the film comes up short against the books.

The most important point here is that Stephen Maturin gets shortchanged. In the film, he's played by Paul Bettany, whose gentle looks certainly convey Maturin's intelligence. But the Maturin of the books isn't an attractive man; in fact, he's short, a little threadbare, half-Irish and half-Catalan, and sort of a prickly cross between Sherlock Holmes and Samuel Johnson, with an accent on the science-geekiness. He collect animal specimens, spends his leisure time dissecting specimens (in the books, he even acquires an orphan's corpse for this purpose), and-- this is important-- works as a spy against Napoleon. He is a strange one, and I suspect he's O'Brian's own stand-in in the books. But the movie defaults him to a likeable, humane, and somewhat overly sensitive stand-in for, well, a 21st-century participant.

So we didn't get Stephen Maturin in the movie. And I did find myself wishing that they hadn't kept the violence down; I don't _like_ violence, but showing how devastating a cannonball hit was to a ship, how lethal an oak splinter could be, how quickly one had to saw off a shattered arm so that the patient didn't die, would have given a stronger sense of Life at Sea in those days.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Saturday, November 15 2003 9:43:37

Theophany Rising

Am I losing my mind, or did you just imply that Harlan Ellison – one of the undisputed greatest writers of our generation – has something to learn from you about the importance of honesty in writing?

I can’t imagine what marvelous nugget of mind expanding wisdom you are preparing for us, but it had better be good!


I’m technically OK vs the double post, having bracketed midnight, but I’ll keep my mouth shut 'till Monday as a show of good faith.

Jim Hess
- Saturday, November 15 2003 6:12:57

As we are allowed but one post per day to this arena, let me make mine short and quick: So far, of all the replies--thank you very much, by the by--only Harlan's comes close to what it is I am getting at, with regards to writing.

Stay tuned. And do post.

Until next time. . .

Jim Hess

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Saturday, November 15 2003 1:27:51

Truth, Integrity, Certainty and Denial

Truth is in the domain or art and ideality. It is odd that truth is often reached by lying, as in the myths of the Bible or Ovid's Metamorphoses. The atheist Santayana explained his love for Christianity by saying it is not true but it is truth.

Integrity seems to be what some people mean when they talk about the truth. This one's hard--just saying what you mean and doing what you say. This is how you keep hold of your friends and loved ones over time. I work on this one all the time.

Honesty? Well, you got me on this one. I'm not sure it exists, but I have noticed that honesty is subjective and that women and men seem to be honest in different ways. I have known people who have been honest to a fault and who take sadistic joy in hurting people with their honesty. "You are putting on weight," they will say, and then they will run behind honesty like some flag of truce, while all the time a pleasured and abusive gleam flares in their eye. I have seen these same people tell cosmic lies about how much they love their parents, when they hadn't seen the old nusances in months. Oh yes, that's true. And, just as true, I've seen other folks who have told a thousand thousand small lies to keep from hurting others, while everyday they walked on the path of complete truth. I don't know if there's honesty but I do know there's irony.

And Just before we start walking into the deadly lands of deconstruction, let me also say their is also certainty and fact. You can't be a goddamn lawyer about everything.

For instance, there's mathematical certainty. You know, "one and one is two."

And then there's fact, like the Holocaust happened, and you don't even have to read Michael Shermer or Deborah Lipstadt to known that it happened, but if it helps, go get there books. Shermer, a great skeptic and historian, explains why it's so hard for an average person to carry all the physical records, the preponderance of evidence and the exact calculations that make for proper historical judgement. Instead, we wind up listening to the tradition of history and we wind up accepting much of it on faith. Then somebody comes along with a small contradiction and your faith in history crumbles like a house of cards.

Well guess what? That's why you have to read. The great anxiety of the Twentieth Century is that we now have a deadly serious responsibility to know this stuff--so the weasels don't get in power. But instead all the pressures of modern people have made a world full of wimpering and whining jellyfish, who actually say things like, "I don't like to think" or "I don't have time to read" or "When I get home from work, I just like to tune out." Well, that's how the little men with silly mustaches and armbands will make their comeback.

And Gore Vidal is right when he says that this time, the fascists won't have silly mustaches, this time they'll be pretty blonde's in designer clothes on Fox's American Morning broadcast, or they'll be slack-jawed Texans in fashionable suits who tell you about Patriotism and God. And then we'll start invading other countries just to get their resources, and then . . .


Steve Dooner

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Friday, November 14 2003 23:28:26

Truth? Honesty? I'm So Confused!

My two year old daughter met me at the door last night. Drawing me by one finger to the couch, she climbed into my lap without a word or a smile and stared solemnly straight into my eyes. There was a long suspended moment. Satisfied, she tucked her head under my chin and let her eyes drop shut to the beating of my heart.

‘Just for a small and forgotten time
I have had full in my eyes from off my girl
The whitest pouring of eternal light –‘ from ‘Black Marigolds’, translated from the ancient sanskrit

Honestly, isn’t it true that the truth never changes as long as you’re honest?

Jim H., I think most people posting here can puzzle out that truth is not quite the same as honesty; and also that catalyzing a discussion is not quite the same as being at the center of one.

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Friday, November 14 2003 20:35:49

I remember how many times in writing classes where someone would write something based on events that had happened to them and yet it would sound less true than something totally made-up. I think it's a fine line...the writer ultimately is teling the truth even if the events exist only inside his head, because storytelling resonates within the reader. The trees are real even if the forest isn't.

Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
- Friday, November 14 2003 12:50:56


Glad to hear your back is feeling better. And, I like the picture I just noticed of you and Clifford Meth, promoting "god's 15 minues" (standard plug that all proceeds go to KICK):



My best wishes for your mother. I know things look grim, but I really, really hope and pray that things get better for you and yours.

Regards and friendship,
Joseph J. Finn

Frank Church
- Friday, November 14 2003 12:45:59

People lie because they know they can get away with it. Truth is the candy nobody wants after Halloween is long over.

Tell someone the truth, they act like you just farted on the Virgin Mary. Lies comfort us, because they protect us from the beasts we live to keep caged.

- Friday, November 14 2003 9:28:8

Responding to Chris' conundrum...

What's wrong with lying ANYWAY? If you're tormented by a conscience, become a monk. Otherwise, trash the ethics and lie like bloody hell. I think it becomes less of a quandary when we understand that every lie has its basis in fact. If I contrive some story to cover my ass when a creditor comes pounding on my door with a writ I might tell him I haven't any money when I do; but I may try to explain WHY I don't have the cash. If I DO that, I'll want the story to be sound. I would model it after things that really happen to people (lost my job, the IRS took it all, I got raped and looted by my roommate, etc). If I didn't, he wouldn't believe me. I have to make him believe me. So, when we're asked to "smooth" out narrative in a script it's because we haven't achieved that CONVINCING lie. My creditor ain't gonna believe it.

Sometimes we lie out of desperation. Writing for an audience or a smart readership is another kind of desperation. In fiction, the most convincing thing of all has to be the emotions. You use truelife events to an extent as a basis for a story; but you project it with your feelings about the events or the characters. If you feel nothing you're not going to be able to write it. Your lie won't be convincing. (Furthermore, if you can transport yourself while you're watching a movie - suspending disbelief and buying someone else's lie - why can't you do same by closing your eyes and imagining YOURSELF in a set of events? Become a learned daydreamer and you'll find this easy to do.)

So...in summary, I think you should trash your sense of morality and think of yourself as Nixon-For-A-Day; see how MUCH you can get away with in the lie; find a true-life model for the events you have to depict; BUT explore your feelings about those events in the abstraction. That's where a profound aspect of truth emerges (that's what I think is the art of fiction: you use lies as your paintbrush to explore a human question). If you can't do that, choosing instead to be distracted by the anal question of the lie, you'll most likely wind up with a C at best on your script (and not much of an audience waiting to see it filmed).

Rick Wyatt <rick@rickwyatt.com>
- Friday, November 14 2003 9:10:56

In the words of Jean Giraoudoux:
"The secret to success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made."

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Friday, November 14 2003 8:55:10


I was in a nice one star French restaurant last night, talking with some friends, everything very first world and civilized, when one of the lovely mademoiselles serving the meal reached across to set a dish in front of me. I came suddenly face to armpit with her entirely and powerfully unmanaged personal odor, which very nearly knocked me off my chair.

Weird thing is, in spite of all my social indoctrination in favor of showering once a day and maintaining armpits that smell like a brisk ocean breeze, I experienced an intense urge to grab a spear, whistle up the dogs and go kill a wild boar, thus proving myself worthy of mating with her. But hold on! I’m middle aged and happily married! I’d never cheat on my wife!

The truth is that as a species we are hopelessly self-aggrandizing idiots normally incapable of realizing even a dim working knowledge of what makes us tick. Without artists to slice through our self-excreted crust of face saving bullshit, we would crush ouselves to death under the weight of our own failure to see ourselves for what we are. If the truth that a writer delivers is an unflinching vision of our real selves, the collection of lies that he weaves forms the dagger that drives the revelation home.

Steve Jarrett <sjarrett@aol.com>
High Point, North Carolina - Friday, November 14 2003 8:13:27

truth in fiction
My favorite quote on the subject comes from Ken Kesey, by way of Chief Bromden: "...it's the truth even if it didn't happen." It seems to me that we don't need to look any further than ancient mythology to see that a story doesn't have to be factual to be true. It's no accident that those stories have endured for centuries. There will always be more truth in a well-wrought metaphor than in the most excruciatingly reliable account of the facts.

Steve J.

David Loftus <dloft59@earthink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Friday, November 14 2003 7:40:0

honesty in writing

Honesty, like truth, is crucial to good writing.

This does not necessarily have anything to do with facts, however. One must be deadly honest with one's lies -- in fiction, anyway. (I notice that almost no one seems to have responded to the question in terms of nonfiction or essay writing.)

My favorite discussion of the issue of fiction's lies in the service of truth is Chapter 13 of _The French Lieutenant's Woman_ by John Fowles. (But you really should not peek at it without having read the first 12 chapters, or you lose much of the impact.)

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Friday, November 14 2003 5:20:9

On Truth and Lies

There has been a merry debate about truth and lies in fiction since Aristotle first isolated the problem of imitation in art. Shakespeare, too, punned endlessly about feigning and lying in art.

My understanding: When I have acted on stage I have been able to say and feel things I could never have said without a mask. The "lie" allowed me to speak truths that we can't get to otherwise.

However, I also like the opposite paradox posed by Nietzsche. Everytime we speak a truth, we lie. When we say "I love you," for instance, we often say it to reassure our loved ones at moments when they feel unloved. We make verities to push back the darkness of uncertainty, and everytime we try to make a truth statement, we simultaneously assert the opposite.

So to sum up: when we tell the truth, we lie, and when we lie we tell the truth.

But I still love all you guys, honest.

Steve Dooner

- Friday, November 14 2003 5:5:27

I'm telling you this right now and I mentioned this before, but one must read Tim O'Brien's THE THINGS THEY CARRIED (the novel, not just the short story) to fully appreciate and go a long way to understanding the paradox of "honesty in writing". O'Brien says some of the things happened and some of the things didn't happen in this novel, but it's all true.

The truth isn't a blow by blow recitation of what happened, but that nugget that we all understand that may be apocryphal---but, sometimes is not---and that we KNOW is the right way or the correct way or, dare I say it, the MORAL way. One rarely finds TRUTH or honesty in a work of non-fiction because the author is giving you an interpretation of what happened through his or her eyes---with no understanding or comment because the author is trying to be objective---and those eyes see the colors differently, so to speak.

(I think film documentaries are much closer to books of fiction as far as understanding or truth. We say that the camera doesn't lie and, for the most part, it is true. The camera only looks at what it wants to look at and there are very few ways of lying to the camera---and no comments regarding special effects, you guys know what I'm driving at---and the camera, like the book of fiction, picks and chooses what it wants to show us.)

And speaking of film, I think a good fim of this type of paradox is the basic training scenes that make up the first half of FULL METAL JACKET. That stuff in basic training did not happen. It is a work of fiction. BUT, it's all true; every last single epithet, curse, insult, degradation, and humiliation is true and it made the book pale in comparison as to what it was trying to get across.

Ok. End of sermon and the Pretentious line forms behind me.

Jim Hess
- Friday, November 14 2003 4:56:22

Harlan: Much appreciated, your quick and succinct reply regarding honesty in writing. As to the other replies, have you noticed you actually sidestepped what I asked? Some went from honesty to truth. Some suggested honesty, but by way of honesty not in writing but other things. And some suggested honesty as lies.

Think about all of it, folks. I will get to the point. Soon.

Until next time. . .

Jim Hess

Chuck <Chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
Ya, Know - Friday, November 14 2003 0:22:56

Peggy: Jeez! I hope the chemo works out well. I hope they're feeding your cat well, and the @##$%^&&*! bureaucrats will get off their hands and let you go to Kutait, already! May your difficulties evaporate into nothingness.

And I think the second coming of Coleman was a spoof. I don't think it was him.



Los Angeles, - Friday, November 14 2003 0:16:51

Jon Stover writes "And I also like Yeats's lines -- 'I must go down to where all the ladders start/ In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.'"

I bet that'll be in the textbooks in Michigan. The whole literary censorship issue reminds me of one recent book that detailed the whole bowdlerization of student literature. The gist that I got was that children were more or less turned off of reading altogether because all school material was rewritten or produced to eliminate any elements of drama/sadness/ethnicity/hardship/anger/fear/death/
superiority/inferiority/etc., and was consequently as dull as dishwater. Way to up the sales of Playstation.

Man, I wish I was cool enough to get ripped off by HE.

Jon Stover
Canada - Thursday, November 13 2003 22:42:4

"I must lie down where..." Yes, I looked it up after posting. Sorry.

Cheers, Jon

Jon Stover
Canada - Thursday, November 13 2003 22:36:13

I believe Stephen King said (or wrote) "Fiction is the truth inside the lie" or something like that. David Gerrold had a nice metaphor for good fiction in a column that he did for Starlog back about a gazillion years ago -- that stories were like Cracker Jack boxes; they needed to include prizes along with the candied popcorn and peanuts if they were going to be worth consuming. And I also like Yeats's lines -- "I must go down to where all the ladders start/ In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart."

Oh, and good luck, Peg. There's something weird and sad about the cat being there waiting for you and yours -- I hope it gets resolved soon.

Take care, Jon

Chris L
- Thursday, November 13 2003 22:19:45


You beat me to the punch which is a good thing because you express the paradox better than I could have.

Now that I'm in my second year of a screenwriting program, I find I struggle with this issue every day. I believe that "Cinema is truth 24 times a second" or at least the truth-telling aspect is what most interests me. Yet I can't get around the fact that it's also just a bunch of dirty, stinking, lies.

I have come to seriously question whether or not I want even to TRY to conitnue writing because I cannot get around the fact that "I'm just making shit up." Whenever I brainstorm ideas with someone else and they ask me questions, my kneejerk response is "How should I know? It's all made-up anyway!" I've started to think I would be better served exploring my options in the world of documentary filmmaking. I really can't get past the "lies" that are endemic to the writing process.

However, goodness knows I've read works of fiction and watched narrative films that feel powerfully and transcendentally TRUE to me. Films like 2001 or books like Crime and Punishment. My favorite of Harlan's stories have had a deep emotional impact on me precisely because they achieve moments of truth - I mean the ending of Jeffty, that's as "true" as anything I've ever read. I may lean heavily in the direction of non-fiction writing and docuemntary film but I would never make the asinine claim that fiction isn't worthwhile. Of course it is!

I have not, however, been able to resolve the paradox for myself. "This scene doesn't work - see if you can smoothe it out." "But that means I just have to make up MORE lies to make THESE lies seem less like lies!!!!!!!" I can't find an ethic that works for me just yet and I grow increasingly frustrated with the process.

I know it is possible to write "true fiction" but I look at everything I've written with disdain for the simple fact that none of it is true. The other students in the program seem to think I'm quite strange for feeling this. I complain about "making stuff up" and just get blank stares. And maybe that's the right reaction.

My interest in areas like sabermetrics (baseball statistical analysis), atheism and world religions, film history, etc. all involve the pursuit of truth. I want my writing to be the same, a pursuit of truth. Even if I am always a poor or mediocre writer, I would at least feel a sense of satisfaction if I know my writing was as "true" as it could be.

As it is, I feel like I'm just "making things up."

Maury Lauterbach
- Thursday, November 13 2003 22:11:10

The Sincerest Form of Flattery
David J. Schow needs to get better press photos because the ones on his website are desperately nasty, that rash of florescent zits running from his right ear lobe to his chin in particular. Either that or a more potent brand of pore decongestant. Why is he still gasping along anyway? Shouldn't he have long since followed Skipp & Specter into direct to video obscurity? Meanwhile the National Book Award medal will look beautiful on Stephen King's masterpieces.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Thursday, November 13 2003 20:41:14

Harlan wrote:
"I answer your query, "How important is honesty in writing?" in true Socratic manner, thus: How important are lungs in breathing?"

This from a man who once described his profession as "Paid Liar."

It's a wonderful paradox, isn't it? When writers compose fiction, they are essentially creating _lies_ for us to believe, if only provisionally or for a short while. The story didn't happen. Or maybe it couldn't happen. Or maybe it did happen, but there's lots of stuff there that the writer couldn't know, but he or she made it up anyway. Or maybe the writer took a shred of fact, and built an edifice of lies so cunning and enticing that it seems even more true than true. And yet, one quality we demand from our writers is something called "honesty."

So what gives, guys? Do we want honesty? Or are we looking for something else, perhaps alongside of honesty?

Here's my guess. I think that we want from our writers is a combination of honesty with oneself, and conviction. I don't mind being lied to with fiction: but if I'm going to believe a lie, I'd feel a lot better if the liar believed in it too. Just this week, I let Stephen King tell me more about Roland the Gunslinger, and tomorrow I'll let Steve Lopez spin a tale of politics in Philadelphia that never happened. We all know that J.K. Rowling doesn't zoom about on a broomstick, that Ray Bradbury's never been to Mars (let alone one with a breathable atmosphere and Martians), and that Patrick O'Brian wasn't even _Patrick O'Brian_. But conviction exists in their work.

(I'd like to hear some examples of works where conviction just isn't there at all. My nominee'd be Madonna's _The English Roses_. It's not a story so much as a rich lady's lark for the sake of a new public image. It's hard to not see it as a sick, evil-universe version of Kay Thompson's _Eloise_ books. I pity any child moved by it-- and hate any parent who fobs it off on a kid.)

And within the realm of lies, there's a specific kind of honesty we want in a writer. If a writer has what Orwell called a "power of facing unpleasant facts," then that writer will not shy away from putting onto paper things that even he does not want to say-- but _must_ say. If a writer starts a story, and realizes that the only sensible resolution goes against his core beliefs and cherished values... honesty demands that he write _that_ ending, and not some comforting dodge to reassure himself or the reader.

So yeah, honesty's as important as a good set of lungs. But you gotta care about what you're doing, too.

- Thursday, November 13 2003 18:52:18

Quoting Chaos Itself.
Christ on cracker, Harlan. As if Frank's head wasn't fat enough already... Now there'll be no living with him.

- Thursday, November 13 2003 18:52:18

Quoting Chaos Itself.
Christ on cracker, Harlan. As if Frank's head wasn't fat enough already... Now there'll be no living with him.

- Thursday, November 13 2003 17:1:10

Chaos Theory

My apologies for missing your request. My lovely bride's doctoral dissertation was on organizational change and her knowledge on said subject (as well as other topics) is immense. She could have easily provided you with the information you sought in an exchange of email or brief phone conversation.

Glad to know you're feeling better; best wishes.

- Thursday, November 13 2003 16:49:23


I answer your query, "How important is honesty in writing?" in true Socratic manner, thus:

How important are lungs in breathing?


Jim Hess
- Thursday, November 13 2003 16:21:25

Oh, good. Harlan is up and about. The cosmos were getting quiet. Too quiet, if you ask me.

I GET A COPY OF V LIFE cos I'm a HERC member? Yes! What a day.

Anyway--what the hell did I track in on my shoes? Oh, just Coleman.

Seriously, here's a question for one and all: How important is honesty in writing?

Until next time. . .

Jim Hess

Cynical Girl
- Thursday, November 13 2003 13:52:5

Nah, the other Hilton sisters. Paris and her sister who looks just like her. Nikki maybe. As far as I can tell they are famous for being tall, blonde, rich, and scantily attired.

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Thursday, November 13 2003 13:38:36

Which Hiltons?
Daisy and Violet Hilton, the "Texas Siamese Twins?"

I just read SHOCKED AND AMAZED, which had the story of the Hiltons and many other carnival sideshow performers. I recommend it highly. Another favorite is the story of the three-legged man Frank Lentini.

I'm unconvinced Coleman is a real person...I suspect it's actually a computer program that spits out random phrases from literary journals.

Frank Church
- Thursday, November 13 2003 13:34:42

HOLY SHIT!! Ok, Mr., "copyrights are god's little ingots" Ellisonia. Giggle.

Cannot wait to see it, oh great one.

Guess that makes me the Dalai Lama of Chaos. Bows to the assembled throng.

Frank Church
- Thursday, November 13 2003 13:21:11

Lancing a boil can be ever so much fun. Without anesthesia is even better.

Thanks Harlan.


Why in God's holy name did TCM have to show The Greatest Story Ever Told at fucking 230am? And my dumb ass watched the whole thing. Every frame looks like a fucking painting from some museum in heaven. Not a big church goer, but that flick is the shit bomb dookie.

I feel the spirit. Amen.

But, fuck you TCM for showing that masterwork so damn late.

- Thursday, November 13 2003 13:17:19


The scapular muscle spasm has abated. I heal quickly. I did not become addicted to Vicodin, Icy Hot Patches, Advil, Cyclobenzaprine, or lying on my back, wonkier than a raccoon on Fruit Loops during extended bed rest. I'm back at work. How do you spell dawg? Got an advanced copy of the preliminary cover for the Modern Library book I edited containing Jacques Futrelle's "Thinking Machine" mystery stories. Tres nifty.

I've spoken to Ted Johnson at V LIFE magazine, at Variety in Hollywood. The magazine is only available via newsstand in NYC and LA. But he's gotten so many requests for copies -- some of which he sent out to HERC members and Webderlanders gratis -- a gesture of graciousness I told him to stop making -- that he's consulting with his distribution manager and the Editor-in-Chief, Tom Tapp, in an effort to set up some kind of an apparat by which any of you who want a copy can order it directly. More on this, if and when...

Frank Church: I quoted a random mot from one of your posts in my chaos theory piece, but I gave you no credit, pretended it was mine own wise saying, ripped you off with malice aforethought so I would look the cleverer, and I will meet you AND your attorney about noon near the Carmes-Deschaux; at 1:00 behind the Luxembourg; and at two o'clock at the hotel of Monsieur de Treville. Your choice: epee, foil, or saber.

Nofuckingblesse oblige, Church!

Le Duc d'Ellisaux

- Thursday, November 13 2003 12:42:39



Pardon the ad hominem attack, sir or madame, but as best I can ascertain from the two messages you've posted here that have caught my eye, you are an ignoramus of celestial proportions.
A canker on the rose. A roach in the baseboard of Life.

No one could figure out what you were gibbering about when you ran that "Gaiman attacks King" incantation, though I suspect you were lost in a fog and were confusing Harold Bloom with Neil Gaiman, which is on a level of acumen akin to confusing Joan of Arc with one of the Hilton Sisters. But now you limp back in, all drool and dementia, totally confusing the two Gary Wolf(e)s.

There are at least two Gary Wolf(e) entities tangential to the genre, you babbling, blathering boob. Tune in that one still-active parietal connection in your skull-phlegm:

There is the novelist Gary K. Wolf, author of (among others) WHO CENSORED ROGER RABBIT? (basis for the film), KILLERBOWL, THE RESURRECTIONIST, and A GENERATION REMOVED. A terrific guy, as nice a man as you'd ever want to meet; he lives in upstate California somewhere, and he has nothing to do with academia, critical writing, or book reviewing. As far as I know, and I've known him for 30 years.

And then there's the academic and critic, Gary K. Wolfe, who was President of Roosevelt University in Chicago; the man who co-wrote the recent non-fiction study of the writings of Harlan Ellison for Ohio State University Press; the man who reviews brilliantly for >Locus<; the man who is prominent in the academic sf organization, the SFRA; the man who is a friend of Harlan Ellison; and the man to whom Harlan Ellison is a friend.

Now that we have THAT straightened out, you clubbrained clod --
assuming you haven't further confused Gary K. Wolf and Gary K. Wolfe with Bernard Wolfe, Gene Wolfe, Thomas Wolfe, Geoffrey Wolfe or (anything is possible when dealing with a wart as dense as you) Virginia Woolf -- permit me, as summat the landlord here, to suggest you resume whatever simulacrum of a hominid you wear when you are not in the fleece-lined room, and lope on out of here, never to return.

Twice you've caught my eye, and twice you've demonstrated a meanspirited and contumelious nature. Twice is two times too many. Your continued intrusions here can only serve to damage the delicate nature of the sweet and smart regulars, lurkers, and occasional visitors who come to Webderland to be enriched, not befouled. You are a schmuck, and that other word that begins with an A......

Go away. Go away now. And never darken our door again.

Without a smile, Harlan Ellison

- Thursday, November 13 2003 10:41:14

Peggy: at the point in your meditations when you have finished intoning "we're the Fugawi", then turn to "Eidolons" and read the bit which begins "did you ever have one of those days" and ends "Put away the pills. We'll get you through this bloody night. Next time it will be your turn to help us." Maybe not an exact quote, please excuse, I don't have the story in front of me. That one always grabbed me. I'm still trying to figure out why. Good reading when things aren't going so well.

And best luck to you, hoping some happy news comes your way soon.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Thursday, November 13 2003 8:41:14

Hang Tough Peggy!


I feel for you. It’s hard to keep stable when your surroundings are unfamiliar, and having both human and feline members of the family dead, ill or confined at a distance constitutes a truly enervating and depressing set of problems. It’s difficult to plant one’s feet and stand firm when you can’t seem to pause in your motion, or stop the ground from changing underneath you.

I am also a rolling stone, and have been since I was a three week old Navy brat. I am a road warrior, polished smooth and gashed deep across thirteen relocations and forty-two years, involving twenty-four separate domiciles, and more than five solid years of hotel rooms, YMCA’s, dormitories and other people’s couches.

From my experience, I think it might help for you to know, given your present situation, that you and your cat are, like myself, full-blooded members of the Fugawi Nation. Follow me on this:

We’re the Fugawi.

Were the Fug - a - wi.

Where the Fuck Are We?

This is our battle cry. You slur ‘where the’ into ‘weah thuh’, and ‘fuck are we’ into ‘fugAweee’.

When you are alone in your rental car, unsure even of which side of the road you should be driving on; when you are wandering a large foreign airport in search of luggage, but finding not even so much as a readable sign, or a working toilet; when you are lying sleepless on a sagging hotel matress, inhaling moldy dampness blown from a poorly maintained 1970’s coolerator that has apparently never had its filter changed; at these times, or at any time like them, you unleash the battle cry, screaming it out at the top of your lungs and from the bottom of your heart.

It makes you feel better.

Dan Thorne
Royal Oak, MI - Thursday, November 13 2003 7:48:10

I have to chime in on the flexeril comments. Y’all are scaring me. Just one of those tablets, which as I recall was about the size of the post nasal drip of a gnat, has been known to knock me on my ass for upwards of 14 hours, putting me into a virtual coma. I’m 6’1” and 200 lbs. If that’s “pretty weak,” spare me the strong shit.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Thursday, November 13 2003 6:31:17

Coleman, you forgot to use the terms "booboisie," "the great unwashed," "toeing the official line," and "bread and circuses."

I mean, if you're going to spout worn-out cliches, you might as well do'em all at once.

Coleman's Clone
- Thursday, November 13 2003 2:29:5

Let us prostrate ourselves before the collected works of Stephen King. Set fire to books by Carroll, Wolfe, Lafferty and Lieber or anyone else who has yet to sell millions of copies!

(Wait-a-minute...this is written too clearly...have let my cell originator down...give me a moment...ah-hah! The upper class smarmy mentality, awash in collected cultural goods, sucks on the teat of the affected masses, doped up in commercialized drug fumes!)

Michael <leftearpro@hotmail.com>
- Wednesday, November 12 2003 20:28:47

Juuuuust keep swimming folks... nothing to see here, keep it moving...

Oh, and HARLAN: Flexeril may not help much; as muscle relaxers go, it's pretty weak. Lia spent some time recently taking carisoprodol, also known as soma, which relaxes one to the point of bonelessness. It kinda prevents any achievement during the day, but at night it almost guarantees a deep, painless rest. Ask your doctor -- hope it gets better soon.

best to all,

Melissa Reeston
- Wednesday, November 12 2003 20:9:23

Peggy, Mr. Ellison, and others I have missed:

Cripes, it's hard to find words that get my sympathy across for what you're going through, except to say that the troubles do pass, albeit it always passes too dammed slowly for anyone's liking. I hope your mother gets better soon, Peggy, and might I suggest threatening someone with that horror called a lawyer to get some movement on the paperwork? I'd hate the idea of that little feline continuing to sit all to its lonesome in a strange land.

As for Mr. Ellison, take your meds, and you're obviously not listening enough to your wife. We're supposed to be the persistent pain, remember?

Best, Mel

Peggy <Trbotongue>
- Wednesday, November 12 2003 19:39:57

Rough Times
I can sympathize with your muscle spasms Harlan. I've had an occasional stress-related back spasm. The first time I had to drive myself to the emergency room at 2:00 AM while my back spasmed every 45-60 seconds, contorting my upper body each time. Not fun. I've used vicodin and/or flexeril and they both worked fine for me; I hope they relieve your pain.

I wish I knew how to begin on the rest of my post. I'm not usually one to lay out my troubles for public viewing. Lately, though, its just one thing after another. (I realize the other board may be better for this, but frankly I've not had the time to catch up on everything there) My husband and I have taken to singing our own Finding Nemo theme song, "just keep swimming", because that's all we can do when we get hit with yet one more issue.

On Sept. 11th I returned to Scotland to pack up house for our move to Kuwait. Five days before the movers were due, we were told there was a 2-3 week delay for permits. We rescheduled. On the day the movers showed, another 2-3 week delay. We moved out because our lease was going to be up, and have been on the road since then. Mark was sick in bed for the first week of our nomadic existence. Every few days or week that goes by, we make more arrangements.

On my birthday my mother emailed to tell me she'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, a 2 inch long tumor. Then her consultations and surgery were delayed due to the wildfires.

Later in October was brutally rebuffed by someone I considered a very close friend, in a manner which implied there was nothing but self-interest on their part all along. I still find it hard to reconcile their behavior to the person I thought I knew.

I flew to San Diego last week when Mom had surgery to remove part of her lung. The hospital wouldn't wait for me to arrive (only 1 day) before operating, which I found out only 3 hours before I left.

She just came home today. The original outlook was optimistic, but once inside they found it had spread more than thought; at least one lymph node was solid, and couldn't be removed due to proximity near blood vessels to and from the heart. They are still prescribing chemo and radiation but haven't said what stage it is. On Sunday I learned that the 5 year survival rate for lung cancer is only 15%.

On Monday, one of their cats, their pet for 12 years, was killed by a wild animal, probably a coyote driven out of its habitat by the fires.

We've been on living out of suitcases and on the move since mid-October. It's mid-November, and I've been told it's another 2-3 weeks still waiting on permits. Our cat is already kennelled in Kuwait, and we're still cooling our heels. I'm off to LA tomorrow to visit Mark's family, and then have to return to the UK Saturday night (I'm temporarily working from London). Mark will be staying with his family here, nop point in him being bored in the hotel while I work.

I'm just getting so tired of waiting for the next shoe to drop. I have to remind myself of the good things that have happened (a large raise), and of all the kind, understanding people who have helped along the way - especially with our plans constantly changing. But I'm really ready for it all to stop now.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Wednesday, November 12 2003 19:38:57


What the hell are you talking about?


- Wednesday, November 12 2003 18:23:3

I'm at a loss.

- Wednesday, November 12 2003 17:47:58

SK #1
Gary Wolfe what a bum. Isn't his sole literary claim to posterity that dorky Roger Rabbit novel? Well I see he has weaseled himself into a professorship at an underfunded community college dominated by Marxists. I'm sure he will happily exchange gibberish with the Jonathan Lethem's and Bradford Morrow's confined forever in their academic gilded cages with their small press monographs on the hermeneutical, transvestite, postmodern niceties of Don Delillo's alimentary canal.

"In life and art both, as it seems to me, we are always trying to catch in our net of successive moments something that is not successive. Something closer to a quality or a state"

C.S. Lewis

Frank Church
- Wednesday, November 12 2003 13:28:22

David, ah, I did mention that I knew who Colmes was, that's why I dissed him. And I already read the Franken book, and it was a hoot. His encounter at the White House correspondants Dinner was funny. Showed the true side of the right.

I remember, Hannity was saying that Franken was being real hateful that night, and cursing at people. According to Franken, he was just having fun with some of the Bush administration and Colmes.

Colmes, in his book says that Fox is fair to liberals, and that some liberals (Franken, Moore) show hate towards conservatives, when they should only disagree with their policies, not make it personal. But it is conservatives who make it personal, when they accuse the left of being anti-American or unpatriotic.

He says we shouldn't hate Bush. For that I say kiss it.

Actually, I don't hate Bush; he is too sappy and dopey to hate. I dislike him greatly, and hate his policies. But I do like his wife. Still don't get how a librarian could fall for that dolt.


Rob, welcome back, my rancorous sparring partner. Those jail house green bologna sandwitches must have been a bitch.


Bern, Bern, come back to us. lol.

Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Wednesday, November 12 2003 10:17:20


Already sent Juvies. Will send my address in the mail tomorrow.

Have fun & stay sane.


- Wednesday, November 12 2003 8:57:5


A million thanks. If you haven't sent it off yet, please enclose a note with your address on it, so I can post it over my desk to remind me to send you the first copy of the hardcover dual-edition when it's published.

Again, many many thanks.

In your debt, Harlan

David Loftus <dloft59@earthlink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Wednesday, November 12 2003 8:5:37


Frank: Al Franken gently but repeatedly chides Colmes in his current mega-seller, not only verbally, but by invariably printing his name in a tinier type than the rest of the text. Apparently, Colmes is a "token liberal" voice on a Fox TV talk show helmed by -- I think -- ultra-conservative and mendacious Sean Hannity. (Yeah, I'd never heard of Hannity either, before I picked up Franken's book.) On the show, Colmes takes all sorts of lying and abuse pretty much lying down, according to Franken.

I saw "Mystic River." It's a good movie, fairly solid on the strength of some excellent acting, but not that well written, in my estimation. A few lines and exchanges had me wincing.

"American Splendor" was fabulous, though. Granted, it's been playing in town for a month or two, but I had very mixed feelings about the fact that Carole and I were the only two people in the theater. On the one hand, it was refreshing not to have to worry about talking out loud -- either before or during the feature -- or about annoying people with my fulsome guffaws (my high school girlfriend once termed it "fat laughter"), but on the other hand . . . well, you know.

As for the proposed Michigan law raised by Alex Jay, this is another hysterical bit of societal and mind control based on myth, fear, and muddy "thinking" that never achieves clarity and therefore progress because of social shaming.

I wrote on the background issue in June, after the Supreme Court decision on library Internet filtering, in a piece the Oregonian was too chicken to print but quietly placed on its Web site:


Scott Reeston
- Wednesday, November 12 2003 6:17:44

No Galactic Pot Healer, Me


You're lucky, mon ami. After piecing together what the wife had said out of half-remembered seeming dream and an early morning visit to the the site, I went down into my vault and looked. Two copies; complete, covers intact, but one a well worn library copy. You came within a few moments of me waking up to losing your chance. And, I'd have done it for laughs, Tony. FOR LAUGHS!!!!!!!!!! BWAAAAAHA-HAHAHAHAHA-HAHAHAHA(*Cough, cough*)!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Remember, I'm still evil.


Want to opine about the Michigan law, but travails await. I'll think about it, and either post at the other place or wait until tomorrow.

Toodles from the Resident Evil, (I'm much more fun than the game, and much better to look at than the crappy film)


Alex Jay Berman <alexjay@earthlink.net>
Philadelphia, - Wednesday, November 12 2003 0:29:30

Censorship again ...
Surprisingly, this story seems not to have hit the radar of the usual news outlets:


Long story short, for those who don't feel like following the link:

Come January 1st, it will be against the law in Michigan for anyone to "disseminate, exhibit, or display" sexually explicit matter to a minor.

On the face of it, a dropkick--but get this:
"Sec. 3. As used in this act:
(a) “Sexually explicit matter” means sexually explicit visual material, sexually explicit verbal material, or sexually
explicit performance.
(b) “Sexually explicit performance” means a motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, or other presentation
that, in whole or in part, depicts nudity, sexual excitement, erotic fondling, sexual intercourse, or sadomasochistic abuse.
(c) “Sexually explicit verbal material” means a book, pamphlet, magazine, printed matter reproduced in any manner,
or sound recording that contains an explicit and detailed verbal description or narrative account of sexual excitement,
erotic fondling, sexual intercourse, or sadomasochistic abuse.
(d) “Sexually explicit visual material” means a picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, or
similar visual representation that depicts nudity, sexual excitement, erotic fondling, sexual intercourse, or
sadomasochistic abuse, or a book, magazine, or pamphlet that contains such a visual representation. An undeveloped
photograph, mold, or similar visual material may be sexually explicit material notwithstanding that processing or other
acts may be required to make its sexually explicit content apparent."

Although the law makes allowances for things like "school programs permitted by law" and colleges and universities who give out the sort of material prohibited by this law "for a
legitimate medical, scientific, governmental, or judicial purpose." So if you learn art as part of your syllabus (assuming that that isn't later dumped from Michigan schools), or if you get a human sexuality textbook, you're fine.

But there are no provisions for self-education: If a sixteen-year-old looks up health-based websites, the owners of said websites are screwed.
There are no provisions for art: If said sixteen-year-old, a budding artist, wants to buy or even LOOK at art books on her or his own, the bookstore and its staff are lawbreakers. Likewise an art gallery or museum.
There are no provisions for literature: If said sixteen-year-old buys him- or herself books by James Joyce, or Philip Jose Farmer, or Stephen King ...
"Bad boys, bad boys; whatcha gonna do?"

But before, when these sort of laws were put up, there had to at least be a simple transaction; a sale or attempted sale. THIS peesashit law just says "display," so a lot of cases are going to go down because someone FEELS something is "sexually explicit." Lotsa billable hours and wasted taxpayer money coming up. And the Constitution again feels the tramp-tramp-tramp of booted feet.

This is absolutely fucking SICKENING.
What the hell ever happened to PARENTING? What the hell ever happened to looking at what your kids arereading, or seeing, or
doing? What the hell ever happened to personal responsibility?

What the hell ever happened to FREEDOM?!?

(A PDF file of the actual statute, an amendment to a twenty-five year-old law, is available at: http://tinyurl.com/uo19 )

Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Tuesday, November 11 2003 21:6:44

I know, 2 posts the same day, but in a good cause...

Melissa, thanks for the quick response.

Juvies goes out to your home address UPS tomorrow morning.

Bests to you both.


Melissa Reeston
- Tuesday, November 11 2003 21:3:6

12:03 am, EST. I made it over the date line, so no penalty.

Tony and Mr. Ellison:

I'm a fan of the "bird in the hand" principle, so if Tony's copy of "The Juvies" is complete, please send it to Mr. Ellison post haste. I wasn't looking forward to any book hunt anyhow. Besides, I just checked Scotty's Ellison pavilion, and amongst the tomes are three signed copies of "Jokes Without Punchlines".

There Tony, now we'll know where four of them are.

Back to the wheel. I've five more sets of mugs to throw before I sleep. Personally, I'd rather go miles.


Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Tuesday, November 11 2003 20:16:47


I've got a copy on the shelf. Front cover's missing, but unless I missed something flipping through it a few minutes ago, I believe all pages are present & accounted for. So if Scott & Melissa don't turn one up in their boxes, just let me know before you shell out $100 for a copy some place else.

And if you do need the copy, nifty though Jokes Without Punchlines would be, I'd actually rather snag a copy of that hardcover Juvies/Deadly Streets (if they provide you with enough copies). Your call--whatever's most convenient for you.

Holler if you need me to send it.



Melissa Reeston
- Tuesday, November 11 2003 19:29:20

Mr. Ellison:

I woke the husband, and asked him if there might be a second copy of "The Juvies" in his collection. Scotty was noncommittal, but pointed me to the boxes stacked with old paperbacks in our basement. They are all doubles and triples of books he's collected, keeping to trade. There's about twenty large boxes, so I'll be a few days going through them.

If time is of the essence:


This copy's available for $95. It seems a bit steep, but if another doesn't turn up, it could work out to be a good alternate plan. Think of the money as an investment to get the hardcover printed.

Good luck, Melissa

- Tuesday, November 11 2003 17:25:33

Just got out of the slammer. I'm still massaging my wrists from Rick's handcuffs. Just look at these marks. The man's a brute. You tell him the cuffs are too tight; that they're a pinchin' the noives like tiny bear traps; you implore him to loosen the things...just a bit. Y'know...y'try to find a spark of humanity in him SOMEWHERE. What does he do? Tightens 'em...makes you SWOLLOW the key...and dumps a bucket o' diarrhea on your head.

Then, again...I think there was a part of me that actually kinda LIKED it.


There was a time when I'd rub people's noses it, when they conceded their mistake in voting for Bush.

But it's reached a level I didn't think possible. I've been seeing military personnel taking direct verbal shots at Bush for news cameras. Not like just National Guard recruits or privates. We're talkin' higher staff here: Sargeants and Major Generals. I was - I confess - impressed, not because of my obvious bias but in the past, and certainly in other countries, this probably would have been considered blatant insubordination.

I especially remember a sargeant who went so far as to say Bush is as bad as the enemy we're fighting in Iraq. Some might say that's going too far; others might sense what he meant. Either way, it's the image of an active military officer saying it that really stuck with me. He's doing his job; but he's not letting it stop him from voicing his opinion.

Then there was a senior National Guard officer, who said the decision had "seriously jeopardized the trust our soldiers and airmen have in their senior leadership".

I think another way of describing it is low morale. One hell of an irony, considering the military was just about Bush's BIGGEST supporter in the election.

So - y'ain't alone, Joel.

...AND...we just lost the MASSIVELY talented ART CARNEY. The man won 7 Emmys, 5 being for Ed Norton. Y'know, he was the original on-stage Felix Unger (hard as it is for me to visualize). When they wanted to do the movie Carney's name wasn't considered big enough for the box office yet (particularly compared to Jack Lemmon) to bring him out from New York (additionally, I also understand he'd dropped out of the stage production because of alcohol problems). So, Matthau came out with most of the original cast sans Carney (Matthau saying he'd felt bad about it...but that it was the way the game was played).

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Tuesday, November 11 2003 16:50:31

A Good Point, Cindy, But . . .

I think you raise a very good point about fairness, and I would agree with you, were it not for the government-mandated media blackout on all funerary images and memorial services--'twas not like this in the days of Cronkite, for I distinctly remember the images from the Vietnam War that shocked and saddened a nation.

It's as though some Bill Tidy has appeared from Hollywood to rewrite the script of this war, and he has cut everything that would seem to "downbeat." We, poor weaklings that we are, could not understand a Periclean or Lincoln-like funeral oration that honors the sacrifices of the recent dead while the war is still on. No, we must molly-coddled and treated like a nation of infants.

Now, I grant that images of body bags do not boost morale, but why the moratorium on memorial services? Certainly, recognition from the government might have comforted these families at the time they needed it most. I cannot help but be disgusted at the evil "Madison Avenue" policy we have adopted for this war.

The story about the media ban has been widely reported enough, and it is well known that the administration needs to put a positive spin on their failing efforts. "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."

It is simply not good PR for them even to have a group memorial or a remembrance of the most recent sacrifices. Today, Veterans Day, they barely mentioned the 382. . . I'm sorry, 383. . . no, no, it's 384 service men who have died and are dying. All Bush said is that this most recent generation should be inspired by the "Greatest Generation" to die in even bigger numbers for Haliburton! He did say that. I swear I heard it! I admit I'm paraphrasing slightly, but that's pretty much what he said.

Journalistic time has also been horribly skewed. Imagine folks in 1945 sitting around talking about all the doughboys who died in 1919, while ignoring Iwo Jima. Imagine if Edward R. Morrow decided to report the Battle in the Ardennes Forest while on a London Rooftop in 1939.

I am not writing these words to be adversarial. I have enormous respect and admiration for you, Cindy. I am only writing these words because I am ashamed of my country, my President and this illegal war. My mood today has grown blacker and blacker as the day has worn on. They look like Jackals to me. That's all I can say.

Steve Dooner

- Tuesday, November 11 2003 16:39:29


I urgently need a copy of THE JUVIES. I don't want a copy in mint or even good condition. A publisher in the U.K. wants to do a combined hardcover containing THE DEADLY STREETS and THE JUVIES. Neither has ever been in hardcover. We have a pb copy of THE DEADLY STREETS, but no copy of THE JUVIES, which has never been reprinted in ANY form since its initial release as an Ace pb in 1961. So if anyone out there has a battered, water-stained, brown and silverfish-gnawed second-copy, or a reading copy, or a bookshop-remaindered copy you've saved for trading ... well, I'll offer as fair exchange payment, a copy of my RAREST book, the ugly little chapbook JOKES WITHOUT PUNCHLINES, a tiny book of uncommon awfulness due to idiot printing and formatting by White Wolf, who did up less than a thousand copies for my appearance/signing at the 1995 American Booksellers Convention in Chicago. Less than a thousand that were snatched up in one day by attendees. It's hideous, but ultra-rare.

JOKES WITHOUT PUNCHLINES goes for a pretty penny on e.bay, and I will trade a personalized mint condition copy to the first person who can supply me with a copy of THE JUVIES. I don't care what it looks like, but ALL THE PAGES MUST BE THERE, even if loose. The copy will be used by the printer, and they'll tear it apart, so DON'T offer me your good library edition. I want a crap quality book, and will send you this expensive, rare, though hideous, collectors' item in exchange. And you'll be instrumental in getting these two early collections back into print.

Waiting to hear from you, i remain, as always, Harlan.

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Tuesday, November 11 2003 16:34:7

Sorry Frank....
I think any type of extremism is bad for the country, be it from left or from right. That's all I have to say about it. Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh are BOTH big fat idiots who have problems with telling the truth. I'll never fully trust either side, and I would advise anyone with an ability to think independently to harvest the same skepticism.

I realize I've broken a rule here, so I will not post again until Thursday...

Frank Church
- Tuesday, November 11 2003 13:5:3

Joel, it would have been very easy to just check the Social Security Administration website, and it would tell you that the trust funds are solvent for 40 years, and the "low cost" ones are solvent for 75 years. I have also heard Ed Herman and Chomsky say the same thing.

Never trust a conservative on Social Security data or any other data.


Coleman is just a spy who wants to rock the boat. We should all just moon him/her/it? and kindly tell the person to kiss our asses.

Not Cindy's though. Don't want Coleman receiving any enjoyment.


Like the latest Steve King installment in Entertainment Weekly, but I think he may be overrating Mystic River a bit. Sure, it is a great film, but the best in 30 years? Not quite. It may be the best film this year; so let's keep it at that for now Stevie.

Hoping he liked Kill Bill.


Bush didn't have to go to all the funerals, but he could have had a national day of mourning or something. He should also send personal letters to all the families. He owes them that much. And he owes us all by stepping down from the throne and going straight to prison.


Someone needs to be our Variety pimp. He, he.

AZ - Tuesday, November 11 2003 12:11:57

***Thanks for the response Justin. What is wrong with this great state of ours??
***Cindy--I prob missed it if you spoke of it here, but who won the contest? Is it over? I will log on over there to check. Thought I'd ask you though.

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Tuesday, November 11 2003 10:42:35

a confession...
I voted for Bush in 2000. Al Gore left me cold and seemed to take me for granted as a voter, my state had few others on the ballot, and my state always went Republican anyway [this was before the move to California, obviously] I voted for Bush because I thought he might do something so that my generation would get a share of Social Security, or at least be able to invest some of that 6 percent ourselves. Obviously, that didn't happen, and isn't going to happen, and doesn't seem all that important now. All of the events of the last couple of years, hell, the last six months, have made me realize I made a mistake, though I don't feel too bad since Bush handily won my state anyway. So I'm not voting for him again, though I may or may not vote Democratic depending on who gets the nomination. It just seems like each day there's some new horrible event, and even though I think a lot of these things would have happened even with Gore in the White House [though probably not the ones in Iraq], I can't help but think they would be responded to with more diligence.

And yes, it is disgusting that this president, who campaigned so strongly about restoring the military, has treated them in the way that he has.

No clue what Coleman was on about...indeed, I surely hate when folk communicate in such an affected style.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Tuesday, November 11 2003 7:47:25

Cindy's point about Bush and funerals is, actually, very good. It'd be one thing if a slew of body bags came back, as they did from Vietnam: then, the President could officiate at a ceremony without playing favorites. And the political considerations Cindy raised are not without a basis in fact.

Personally, I don't think Bush regards the deceased as anything other than people who should be working to protect People Who Matter.

But this reminds me of one of the ghastliest, most wrenching things I've ever seen-- and Harlan, if you're reading this, maybe you've seen this particular film clip. It was part of a history series in the late 1970s where they chroma-keyed the host into news footage of the time: I recall Dick Cavett and Cliff Robertson hosting definite segments, and it may have been titled "Time Capule" or something like that.

The segment was on the the Sixties, and the film showed then-President Nixon paying a visit to the mother of a soldier who'd been killed in Vietnam. Imagine this, gang. The cameras are following Nixon as he gets out of his limosine. He strides across a suburban street to a house where a middle-aged women is trembling, both with awe of The President and with barely-contained grief over the loss of her baby boy. Nixon walks up to her, and offers some _clearly scripted_ words of condolence, uttered in that horrible, stumbling "statesman" voice of his. The woman breaks. Suddenly, grief and pain spill out of her in a torrent, and she breaks down in horrible, wracking sobs.

That's not the worst part. The worst part came with Nixon reached into his label pocket, and took out a pen. He presents the pen to her, explaining that it was an _actual pen_ used by _the President_ to actually _sign a bill_. I don't remember anything else Nixon said, but the phrase "in grateful recognition" was probably in there, somewhere. The woman takes it-- probably the only thing she could do, what with her body laboring to draw breath in between the sobs-- and continues to wail as the President of the United States retreats to his limousine.

Scott Reeston
- Tuesday, November 11 2003 7:22:17

New and Old Business


Should M. Ellison not have any copies for sale, use the advance search option at abebooks.com to see if any UK or European mainland dealers have any copies. Could save you some time in transit and postal cost.

Me, I don't Ebay. I prefer what I'm buying to have a price set firm, rather than have my purchase subject to the whims of a hyperactive fool with an itchy mouse (not a scratchy cat) finger.

Mark: Regarding your Molson's Ex vs. Rush question a couple of weeks ago...I like Rush just fine, but think they're another of the bands of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties who are just hanging on rather than contributing to music. Truth to tell, I feel the best work Neil Peart has done lately is "Burning for Buddy", his and a number of other drummers tribute to Bernard "Buddy" Rich.

I think "Moving Pictures" to be their best, more for "YYZ", and "The Camera Eye" (interesting to listen to lyrics considering the nature of Canada's Two Solitudes), than the often played chestnuts "Tom Sawyer", and "Red Barchetta". I also have a strong respect for "Grace Under Pressure", really liking the song and video for "The Body Electric".

One other thought. I recall listening to "2112" a few months ago, and the thought had struck me about the possibilites that could've ensued in Pete Townshend and Neil Peart (Rush's lyricist) sharing notes on the similar themes and ideals rising from Rush's theme album and "Who's Next", the progeny of Townshend's failed "Lifehouse" project. Intriguing to think of the fusion of Pete's mystical interests to Peart's insight and pragmatism.

With that, I go now to confound the virulent strains of Toby Keith idiocy with "The Gilded Palace of Sin". I love it when the the music I play at work starts to pop the heads of those who listen like kernels of corn. It's delicious fun.

Yeppers, I'm evil. So sue me.


TEXAS - Tuesday, November 11 2003 7:21:57

Steve Dooner,

His presence at the funeral of one soldier and not those of ALL soldiers would only serve to inflict more pain on those who suffer. To insult more families than he could comfort would be unfeeling and counterproductive. How would you choose which funerals to attend? Would the funerals of black soldiers be ranked as more important than those of white soldiers? Would you attend the funerals of young soldiers more frequently than those of old soldiers? Or would it be the other way around?You'd have to be Solomon to pick your way along that treacherous path and bitterness and anger would be the most prominent features of the landscape.


There is no lack of inclination to attend these funerals on the part of President Bush. The necessity of absolute fairness demands his absence now, when the numbers of the dead and the responsibilities of the office are so conflicting.

You are right about Haliburton though.


Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Tuesday, November 11 2003 6:12:34

Paraphrasing Coleman:
"Considering the many masterpieces Stephen King has written, Neil Gaiman's choices are curiously fore-shortened to describe how the avaricious blubbering of parochial Yalies running short of years to achieve recognition gravely errs. Big bats down to one five five. Hieroglyphics underscore upstairs couch, revising into corrugated steel rings. Sounds like status grasping priggery masquerading as condescension to me. Procedures follow proscribed canal-like objects of fear and desire. Jonathan Carroll's motif. Like plaster, but with horns."

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
Walshy Manor - Tuesday, November 11 2003 5:55:15

I have no idea what Coleman is driving at, but he is speaking in punctilious academese that sends me right back to my grad school days and gives me a bad case of the heebie-jeebies.

HARLAN: In a few months I’m going to have a brand new office on the second floor of my house and I’ve been mulling over ways in which to set it up. Through various dust-jacket photos and videos, I’ve caught glimpses of your office and have been impressed with the design. Do you have any tips on how to arrange the office for maximum efficiency?

FRANK: I disagree slightly on the end of “Mystic River.” I thought the look that Laura Linney gave Marcia Gay Harden was chilling and real: it’s a look I’ve seen too many times in the eyes of rough-and-tumble Irish women hell-bent on defending their men.

Also, let me back up my pal Dooner by saying that the “Voice from the Edge” anthology is exemplary. Steve played me “The Function of Dream Sleep” and I was riveted. Holy Toledo, Harlan! What radio shows you and Orson Welles would have made!


John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Tuesday, November 11 2003 5:47:18

Sorry, Harlan; I can't cut through the fog of Coleman's style to see what he meant.

I think it may have included a swipe at Jonathan Carroll, which is also offensive. But if people couldn't score points off their betters, what use would the internet have?

- Tuesday, November 11 2003 4:58:34

Lee asked,
"...is there a difference between Scott’s suggestion to ‘ask Harlan Ellison if he has any editions available from his private stock’ and querying directly the HERC store inventory that is listed on this web site?"

No, there's no difference. That be the place to get 'em, if HE's got 'em. (Now what HE's got under the bed is another matter, but I believe those offers would be few and far between. Susan Ellison will more than likely alert this site if there's additions---editions?---not listed in HERC.)

And abebooks.com is indeed a good place to find out of print or other tomes of interest. I've received books through there before and it's so simple and easy that I think even Coleman could handle it.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Tuesday, November 11 2003 3:28:3

Ellison's 'Private Stock' of Books

I have no idea who Coleman is, being relatively new here myself, but his last post evokes the sad images of a broken down 1950’s beat poet that’s taken a few too many hits from his water bong. I hope that's what he was going for.

If not, anyone who’s dealt with two year olds throwing tantrums for attention could tell you that the best therapy is to leave them babbling to themselves in the corner until they find their thumbs and fall asleep.

I deeply appreciate the several excellent suggestions for replacing out of print Ellison works. Though I feel like an idiot for having to ask, is there a difference between Scott’s suggestion to ‘ask Harlan Ellison if he has any editions available from his private stock’ and querying directly the HERC store inventory that is listed on this web site?

I can’t stop salivating over the thought of getting the 1990 signed leather edition onto my bookshelf. This edition is not listed on HERC, and though I’d like to thank PAB for the kind ebay offer I will probably go through www.abebooks.com to get it. But it would certainly be more sensible to send money direct to the author as opposed to a used book store that won’t forward any profit to the author.

- Tuesday, November 11 2003 1:24:17


Does ANYONE here have the faintest idea what Coleman is talking about, because he sure as shit ain't talking about Neil Gaiman as badmouther of Stephen King???????


John Thompson
- Tuesday, November 11 2003 1:12:37

Excuse me, Coleman, but are you perhaps mistaking Neil Gaiman for someone else? I have never heard him make a negative comment about King, and Mr. King has even written an introduction for a SANDMAN collection. And your characterization of Neil's comics suggests you've never read them.

- Tuesday, November 11 2003 0:7:16

SK #1
Considering the many masterpieces Stephen King has written, Neil Gaiman's choices are curiously fore-shortened to describe how the avaricious blubbering of parochial Yalies running short of years to achieve recognition gravely errs. Sounds like status grasping priggery masquerading as condescension to me.
Jonathan Carroll's motif.
I was not aware that penning dialogue balloons for gauzy, soft focus anemic "superheroes" in mascara gave one credibility to criticize the O. Henry award or National Book Award.

Michael Moore is a fat, stupid, white man.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth , MA - Monday, November 10 2003 21:34:25

Harlan Audio and Outer Linits Thoughts

What a wise investment it was to purchase the two "Voice From The Edge" audio anthologies. I had real electric joy listening to Harlan's performances of "Laugh Track" and "Repent! Harlequin." I also heard a hint of melancholy in his reading of "A Boy and His Dog" that really awakened nuances of the story for me. "Grail" is a masterpiece. It should sit alongside Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" (with its haunted demon lover) and John Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" (With its pale knight forever pining for lost love). No one else could have written this story; it will stay with me always.


MARK WALSH: I loved what you wrote about that dope writing for The Boston Globe and his insipid review of the Outer Limits collection. Just the other day I met a brother of a friend of mine who, out of the blue, volunteered that "Demon With A Glass Hand" and "Soldier" were the best episodes of The Outer Limits series. When I questioned him, he did not know who Harlan was, nor did he realize that HE had written both episodes. He simply thought those were most memorable stories from the series, and he had innocently chosen them as his favorites. He didn't even know the titles--just that Robert Culp with a glass hand was in one and that Michael Ansara and Lloyd Nolan were in the other. This is Harlan's greatness as a storyteller coming through.


Lastly, here it is Veterans Day, and we have President who won't attend the funerals of our soldiers. I don't know about you guys, but I'm feeling mighty ashamed. Imagine treating our soldiers the way he has have over the past year and then preaching about patriotism. Oh, they must be cleaning out a special corner of Hell for the Haliburton and Bechtel executives presently occupying the White House.

With an ironic "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori,"

Steve Dooner

P.A. Berman
- Monday, November 10 2003 16:39:8

Lee: There are numerous copies of Deathbird Stories on eBay right now, including a book clud edition hardcover with dust jacket and a first edition hardcover library discard, both for under $10, both from reputable sellers in VG or better condition with cheap shipping. Both auctions end in less than two days.


If you don't do eBay, let me know ASAP and I'll do my best to get it for you and you can pay me back: virulentstrain at yahoo dot com


- Monday, November 10 2003 14:5:36

Deb- I couldn't find a copy anywhere in wee little Tucson. The website for Daily Variety offers monthly or yearly subscriptions, but I saw no way to order individual issues.

Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Monday, November 10 2003 13:44:17


Quick check of the HERC store page doesn't show DEATHBIRD STORIES, unless I'm blind & missed it, but it does show DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH. DWST includes DEATHBIRD STORIES, along with SHATTERDAY, & I HAVE NO MOUTH & I MUST SCREAM, all for a mere $20. Worth every dime & then some, and from a 100% reliable source.


AZ - Monday, November 10 2003 13:41:32

***Apparently Az doesn't know what Variety is , coz we have searched high and low and can't get our hands on a copy. Justin--did you find a copy??
***Simon and Garfunkel together again. Man was it ever fantastic!! I usually like my music less mellow, but this was a great remembrance of days gone by. Whenever I see Paul Simon I wonder if Harlan likes him. I have no idea WHY I have this thought, but I do. Every time. Concert was great. Another reason life is worth living. If only you could BELIEVE Paul and Art are really still friends....

Frank Church
- Monday, November 10 2003 13:39:19

Mark, hell nawww, I skimmed the Colmes book at Barnes And Nubile. He just rips off other books. What a softsoap. You other liberals can have him.


The new Bernard Goldberg book, Arrogance should be used for mulch. Just a bunch of whining about how the liberal media is unfair to Conseratives. Fish faced little bitch.


That parade scene at the end of Mystic River just gets me. All done in faraway looks.

Clint Eastwood has redeemed himself. Except for the goofy ending.

TEXAS - Monday, November 10 2003 13:0:43

Hey Barney,

Don't feel bad!

I have a great deal of animosity toward the President of Mexico. The other day I referred to him as Vivica Fox. My friend Becky was wondering what an actress had to do with the importation of tuberculin cattle from Mexico.

yer pal,

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Monday, November 10 2003 9:55:42

My last doc gave me some stuff called Skelaxin that seemed to work pretty well, or at least, it improved the range of motion in my neck. But maybe I just like the tagline on the box..."For the many profiles in pain."

I think the most Phillp K. Dickian thing I've ever seen was on an episode of Leave it to Beaver where the Beav is on a kids' TV show, tells all his friends to watch it, but steps out of the room for a drink of water when the host tells the kids the show is being taped for later broadcast. So when he gets home his friends call him a liar and he has no idea what has happened or why he wasn't on television like he thought he was. Then they play it the next day and he gets even more confused.

Scott Reeston
- Monday, November 10 2003 9:21:47


Hunting Ellison volumes has caused me some difficulty with the patron author in the past, so permit me to advise that you ask Harlan Ellison if he has any editions available from his private stock. I've been assured HE offers tomes at reasonable prices and ships promptly, all done with flourish and good oral hygene.

If HE somehow fails in his omnipotence:


There's a sizeable number of all editions, some reasonably priced. I've found many of the dealers to be first rate in shipping itmes quickly. And, the advanced search will allow targeting for dealers close to you (check the UK if you want proximity).

Myself, I'm wondering whatever became of the Olmstead Press edition (ISBN 1587541017), with the marvelous Harlequin/Ticktockman graphic on the cover. Was it ever released, or did it go the way of its subject matter and related acts of extinctions; old gods, the dinosaurs, and the Edgeworks series...

Mrreee, Mrreee...

Scott, feeling a bit of Everett C. Marm this day.

Jason Clark
SLC, - Monday, November 10 2003 9:12:59

Muscle spasms and their treatment.
I've dealt with back spasms with an annoying increase in frequency for the past few years. Here's my anecdotal wisdom.

Vicodin, Percocet, and other narcotics do a good job of making the constant throbbing pain fade away, and their soporific effect is welcome at bedtime. But for the sharp pain of spasms, they're useless unless taken in mind-numbing doses, so I try to stay away from them.

NSAIDs - ibuprofen, Bextra, etc - don't do anything except make my ulcer worse. Tramadol and other non-narcotic painkillers don't do much, either.

I'm very nearly convinced Flexeril is a placebo. It hasn't worked for me, or for anyone else I've known to take it. Soma, on the other hand, works fairly well for reducing the spasms, but it's nearly as addictive as the opioid painkillers. I'm willing to risk taking the Soma because it actually works, but I keep a wary eye on my use of it.

After years of pulling my back every few months and just gettting scripts from clinic physicians, I finally listened to my wife and visited an orthopaedist. He sent me to a physical therapist, who was able to stop a particularly painful spasmodic episode in about half an hour through the application of ice and mild electric shocks. That was merely treatment of the symptoms - we're still working on therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles and loosen a trio of stuck vertebrae - but I'm still very pleased to have found a treatment for the spasms that's quick, effective, and drug-free.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Monday, November 10 2003 8:48:4

Deathbird Stories

For a solid month now, each of my five kids (6, 4, 3, 2, 0 years old) has taken a turn being sick with fever and upset stomach. It’s been a nasty lingering six day flu and all but the baby have caught it in perfect series – including Linda and myself. We haven’t gotten enough rest since I don’t know when and are grimly holding the line against total flame-out as we wait with crossed fingers for the last kid to get better.

This in itself ain’t nothing but parenting, and is unworthy of comment, except that I wanted to explain in advance why I fell asleep in the bathtub while reading ‘Deathbird Stories’. Merde. The book has been salvaged after a fashion, but it’s no longer particularly readable. So I logged onto Amazon to order a new copy.

Am I still hallucinating with fever in my bathtub, or is ‘Deathbird Stories’ actually out of print?

If ‘Deathbird Stories’ is out of print, can somebody tell me what ring of Dante’s nine levels of HELL I’m living on? Searching against ‘Harlan Ellison’ returns 2363 separate items for sale through Amazon, so I assume Harlan on the whole is doing just fine. But why would a collection like ‘Deathbird Stories’ ever go out of print?

I’m healing the loss of my ‘83 Bluejay edition with the acquisition of a 1990 signed copy bound in leather. So in my happy little world supply is meeting demand and my bookshelf is in better shape than ever.

It’s the society I’m living in that’s giving me the creeps.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Monday, November 10 2003 7:9:19

Oh, and Barney, there's no reason why you should remember this, but I did cite Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" when I'd replied to Harlan's request for chaos-theory explanations a few weeks ago.

- Monday, November 10 2003 6:1:37

Ouch. Yeah. Busted. My team of fact checkers still hasn't come in yet. And the coffee was weak, and, and...

- Barney

totallybusted, PA.

- Monday, November 10 2003 5:46:17


You don't mean "A Gun for Dinosaur" which was a story by L. Sprague de Camp; you mean Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder."


Barney Dannelke <dannelke01@enter.net>
Allentown, PA. - Monday, November 10 2003 5:2:24

Dickian revisionism
I like PKD as well as the next guy but there is something in Brian's post that I would like to take MILD exception to. While the notion that Hollywood is finally catching up to SF's coin of the realm of 30-40 years ago is quite true, the notion that these cool ideas are exclusively, or even mostly Dickian is to give him far too much credit.

Just to use THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT trailer as an example, here is a story that is referencing Bradbury's A GUN FOR DINOSAUR in terms of "small cause yielding eventual large and random effect" far more than it's referencing the Dick canonical works. It's also a better story than STUFFING to illustrate Chaos theory but I see where Harlan was going with that and STUFFING would also "pull the plow".

Where was I? Ah, yes. While Dick had the market cornered on a certain kind of existential angst and free-floating paranoia, ie. "it looks like crabgrass, but what is it really?" - giving him credit for every cool SF'nal idea to come down the pike is just too easy. Plus it gives short shrift to everybody working in that beanfield from 1945-53 and the whole posse of writers like Sheckley, Sladek and (your favorite here) who have done just as much, or more.

And Brian, really, I agree with 95% of your post. I'm just trying to spread the credit around a bit.

- Barney

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Sunday, November 9 2003 21:15:0

Harlan, hope your neck gets better real soon.

As for _The Butterfly Effect_, here's the website: http://www.butterflyeffectmovie.com/. Nothing up there but few images and the trailer, which looks sort of interesting. Basically, Kutcher plays someone who, due to a semi-latent psychic ability, can change events in the past. He starts by preventing his girlfriend from being killed... but unforeseen consequences arise. The movie looks as though it could be decent.

But it is odd to live in a world where so _many_ commercial movie plots have such a strong Phil Dick influence; I remember when he was considered a weird writer who worked with mind-stretching ideas. And now the culture's caught up to him.

I've had some success with furniture restoration this week. When I moved into my house, I found several pieces of fairly nice-looking furniture which had, sadly, been covered with ugly green paint. I was going to throw out a bureau, but on whim, I put some paint stripper on the top... and found a fairly nice cherry veneer underneath. I cleaned the rest of it up, and this afternoon, I finally got around to laying down some nice reddish stain on the thing (Minwax's Sedona Red, if yer interested). Result; Nice, rich cherry appearance. which will look fantabulous once I lay on a covering of polyurethane. Once I get the drawers' interiors cleaned, it'll be used as a buffet in my dining room. I might actually be turning into a _journeyman_. After that, it's _Craftsman_. Dunno if I'll ever be an _Artist_, but _Craftsman_ is more than respectable.

In the meantime, my next project: buying a business, so I can have a better income and less of a boss above me. Yes, it means being a Capitalist, but I think I can live with that.

Scott Reeston
- Sunday, November 9 2003 18:16:28

Well, my VLife is being sent by a good (although not quite old in years) friend in long standing who professes to inhabit the fictional environs of Ell Eh, who is repaying a favour by sending me five pristine copies by FedEx. I'm now happily tracking their slightly less than Homeric journey across your fabled land, then on into mine.

That, and I am now a fully certified glider pilot. Soloed today for the first time.

Life is good, be it V or real. And remember, it's not what you know, but who.


- Sunday, November 9 2003 15:47:23

I'm glad you're feeling better. I've had similar deep tissue injuries to my back/neck, though never outta the blue. Usually they were a consequence of me doing something remarkably foolhardy and getting very badly hurt, but man oh man. Ow! After healing fully, I've usually found it helpful to find a good stretching and exercise routine that will help strengthen the injured muscles.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Sunday, November 9 2003 14:41:57

Steve Dooner's comment, "David Denby had some funny remarks about The Matrix's painful dialog this week" reminds me of the five minutes I spent last Wednesday laughing out loud then calmly relaxing into chuckles n' giggles.

I watch The West Wing. I loved season one of The West Wing. I thought season two of The West Wing was brilliant. I found season three and season four to be well-written piffle. But, egad, now that the show is struggling without it's creator/writer Sorkin, it's fallen into embarrasment.

So, I'm watching the latest episode where Josh is being beaten down by friends and enemies for dropping the ball on some such shit (doesn't matter what, just that I'm finding it hard to believe that Josh is on the verge of being villified and fired for blowing a negotiation......as if this hasn't happened to every single character on the show at one time or another). So Josh is wallowing in his misery and he's in a cab on the way from dinner and he dramatically asks the cabbie to pull over....he climbs out....(does he shake his fist? I don't remember, but he may as well have) and shouts into the night air "You want a piece of me!?!?! You want a piece of me?!?!?! I'm right here!!!!!!". The camera turns to what he is shouting at.....the U.S. Capital Building.

Pan to Todd spitting his Diet Dr. Pepper all over his comfy teevee viewing recliner. I'm sure Aaron Sorkin was doing more than spitting out his mushroom and shooting his coke (not the diet or sugary sweet coke) out his nostrils....he probably let out a bit of a tear as well to see the show he was beginning to bring down all by himself fall into a heap of splintered, rotting wood.

Bad writing and melodrama can kill the best of intentions.


PS, Matrix: Revolutions is miles better than Matrix: Reloaded. Maybe it's because my expectations were lowered below Hades from the rancid second chapter, maybe it's because I was just enjoying the visual ride without caring for the silly Jesus plotline, but I enjoyed it. Still, the original The Matrix stands alone as on of the better science fiction films to be released by Hollywood.....the cliches will always be there, it's how they are presented that matter.

The spouse and I are off to see Simon and Garfunkel at the America West Arena. Back to the '60s, wahooooooo.


Jim Hess
- Sunday, November 9 2003 14:21:53

So here's a thought: Since KICK is still in need of financial aid and since I would love to get my grubby paws on a copy of V Life, just because Harlan Ellison's writing appears in it, what would be the possibility of SOMEONE (Susan? Are you there?) getting hands on, oh, a couple dozen copies of the issue of V Life that contains HE's effort and, um, how to put this: Let people buy them with the understanding profits from said sales go to KICK?

Either that or I grovel and howl and kisskisskisskiss until I get me very own copy.

My two cents.

Until next time. . .

Jim Hess

- Sunday, November 9 2003 13:39:24

ENOUGH Hollywood bashing already. It's too damn easy, and so commonplace on 'net forums it's become downright banal.

I've licked all of my wounds from MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS. I'm putting it behind me, and moving on to greener pastures.

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
WalshyXanadu - Sunday, November 9 2003 12:24:45

Coupla interesting things in today’s Boston Sunday Globe. The first is a review of the just released DVD “The Outer Limits: The Original Series, Volume 2” (1964-65) that pumped me up and pissed me off simultaneously. I’m pumped up that I can now have digitally remastered versions of “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier” in my Harlan Ellison collection and pissed off about the lackadaisical treatment of HE. The review is couched in a larger theme centering on time travel and killing machines, done to serve the release of Terminator 3. The reviewer links The Outer Limits review to the Terminator through Harlan and the legal action HE threatened “over what he saw as the clear similarities between ‘The Terminator’ and some of his work – which is why video and DVD copies of the movie acknowledge him in the credits” This statement, of course, overlooks the fact that it was Cameron’s incessant mouthing off about stealing from Harlan that brought the action about in the first place. Also, the reviewer, Tom Russo, reveals his snobby core when he tags HE with the reductive “science-fiction writer.” God damn! Were Harlan South American, he would be considered something akin to a demigod or (even better!) a nondenominational WRITER, which is what HE is. Like beady-eyed Creationists, these reviewers preserver and must have their stupidity challenged every time. I sent an email to Russo addressing these (and other) misgivings, with the salutation “Dear Butt Steak,”…I may not get a reply…

The other interesting piece is a brief interview with Michael Moorcock that concerns the release of “The Lives and Times of Jerry Cornelius.” Best lines: “[B]lack farce is no defense against authoritarianism. Ezra Pound, the greatest, funniest, most influential poet of our age, was a fascist. Black humor is dangerous, fascinating territory – I guess someone has to go there.”

FRANK: Please please please please please tell me that you did not shell out some of your hard-earned money for Colmes’s weak-bladder tome.

FRIENDS: If you have not seen “Mystic River” please do: it is a deeply satisfying film. Our pal Stephen King lauds the picture in this week’s Entertainment Weekly, calling one of the top five films he’s seen in the last 30 years.


- Sunday, November 9 2003 12:23:21


After five days, I'm still hurting, but not as much. Took a very hot shower, then an ice-cold one, and I'm able to sit here for a minim to update and answer. (Incidentally, yeah, I know that Vicodin was Limbaugh's drug of choice, and apparently is very easily overdone to the point of addiction. I had 10 pills, and I used 'em; and now I'm out; but I ain't renewing the Rx.)

Before I forget--and I won't even use as a lame excuse the awful blinding pain that had me all woozy when I typed it--the word excruciating" does not have two "t"s in it. Esscuze me pliz.

Lee: I can't remember if I thanked you for that wonderful Piaf CD, but on the off-chance I was dilatory in doing so, herewith my genuine and ongoing thankee for a gift that has put a touch of the sun into my otherwise bleak existence this last week.

As for sending letters to V LIFE suggesting they hire Ellison again, the two guys you want to hit are Tom Tapp and Ted Johnson
but I urge you to be short brief elegant and circumspect. It would be not so hot if they thought I was putting you up to it.

And again, you can only get V LIFE from Variety. Or from someone who subscribes to Variety.

TIM & BARNEY: I got copies for both of you. They'll be in a package of stuff going to Tim next week. Also some new books.

All best from me and Susan,

Yr. pal, Harlan

Chris L
- Sunday, November 9 2003 11:55:47

Jeez M Crow, Frank, don't you ever talk about anything other than the next Hollywood snoozers coming down the pike? There's a whole world of movies out there! :)

I'm not holding my breath on Paycheck - Woo's American films, aside from the mildly entertaining Face/Off, have been terribly disappointing and further evidence of how the Hollywood production system crushes all signs of life and originality from its final product. The credits for the screenwriter also indicate that he is working on an upcoming remake of... THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. Good grief, can't they leave anything alone?

Fuck the Matrix - go see the Station Agent ot Elephant instead.

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Sunday, November 9 2003 11:27:22

Harlan, you have my sympathy and best wishes--that kind of pain may not be life threatening, but it sure as hell can make a person wish he were dead....

- Sunday, November 9 2003 11:16:27

I sit here, patiently waiting for a friend to get tickets to The Producers so my wife and I have an excuse to go to NY (she's never been) and see the show with friends, and now, seeing the comments below, must place hand on sword, ready to defend MISSISSIPPI BURNING and the final installment of the MATRIX. They ain't THE APARTMENT, but they're not WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S 2, knee-ther.

And Harlan, get thee to a masseuse. And actually, that goes for everyone. If you can swing it, once a month. And if you can't, get drunk in a biker bar, call the guy with the ZZ Top beard 'the bearded lady', and then let the bikers pummel you about the neck and shoulders.

Frank Church
- Sunday, November 9 2003 10:45:29

Harlan, Vicodin? Now you finally have something in common with Rush. Hoo, hoo. Be well our wild man of letters.


On the movie front:

Read about Kill Bill 2--it should be more complex and have more of a story, and it promised to be even bloodier!

Ben Afleck, JLo's private dick will star in the movie Paycheck; another Phillip K. Dick story on film. Sounds good.

Finally Tim Burton is back making weird films. His next film should be strange like Ed Wood. Hope so, at least. Welcome back to the land of Nod Timmy.


Looks like Prince has made the Hall Of Fame. Yippeee.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Sunday, November 9 2003 8:32:18

HARLAN: YIPE! I hope you have some good movies to watch.

Adam Troy Castro: David Denby had some funny remarks about The Matrix's painful dialog this week, but, a year ago, the reviewer for The Nation had the best response to the matrix movie dialog. According to him, it went something like: ". . . Yabba dabba "chosen one" yabba dabba "hero" yabba dabba "oracle" yabba yabba."

To the East Coast Members of The Board: Still no sign of V-Life in Boston or Cambridge. I'm hoping to see it by Tuesday.

Frank: "Close" reading would show that I asked "when" V-Life was coming out, and not "what" V-life is. But stay with it, Frank. You'll figure it out. I'm rooting for ya.

Steve DOoner

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Sunday, November 9 2003 8:5:56

Yowww, Harlan, re your current woes: been there. Consider the best wishes spoken, if they cannot actually be spoken.

I dunno what evil films are being referenced blind, but I know that some of the films I consider evil and corrupt would surprise those who think such a thing can be measured by the level of violence and cruelty therein. SCENT OF A WOMAN, with Al Pacino: nasty, evil, small-minded, paean to selfishness, with utterly no concept of right and wrong. MISSISSIPI BURNING, with Gene Hackman: cynical, corrupt, insulting fascist simplification of the real-life events. OH GOD YOU DEVIL with George Burns (along with any other film where a character who dreams of big things is magically given his wish only to find out that he was much better off keeping his head down and being satisfied with what he was): condescending, dehumanizing, an instruction manual for sheep.

THE MATRIX has some entertainment value, I think, but I have become increasingly suspect of films involving a "Chosen One" whose glorious destiny is to walk into heavily-guarded buildings and kill everything that stands between him and his goal. I don't mind it, even like it, in KILL BILL: revenge, as a storytelling trope, I can take. But "Chosen Ones?" They bother me. I have always wanted to do a story set in some kind of fantasy milieu where the bunch of village wise men in some horribly oppressed society talk about the "chosen one" who's going to save them all -- and we see the "Chosen One" walking down the street as a child -- and a cornice-stone or something falls on the brat's head and smooshes him flat, leaves the village wise men wailing and moaning, and opens the story to a normal yutz who finds an opportunity to take the problem on himself, therefore establishing that all the crisis needed was somebody to get off his ass and stand up, and that waiting for chosen ones is a tactic for people with the mindset of slaves. By taking the expected tack, by positing a poorly-socialized geek whose real life is crap but who is a long-prophesized superhero in the virtual world, THE MATRIX and its ilk reinforce that mindset. And I do find that questionable.

Once again, rant exceeded expected length...sigh...ATC

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Sunday, November 9 2003 8:5:56

Yowww, Harlan, re your current woes: been there. Consider the best wishes spoken, if they cannot actually be spoken.

I dunno what evil films are being referenced blind, but I know that some of the films I consider evil and corrupt would surprise those who think such a thing can be measured by the level of violence and cruelty therein. SCENT OF A WOMAN, with Al Pacino: nasty, evil, small-minded, paean to selfishness, with utterly no concept of right and wrong. MISSISSIPI BURNING, with Gene Hackman: cynical, corrupt, insulting fascist simplification of the real-life events. OH GOD YOU DEVIL with George Burns (along with any other film where a character who dreams of big things is magically given his wish only to find out that he was much better off keeping his head down and being satisfied with what he was): condescending, dehumanizing, an instruction manual for sheep.

THE MATRIX has some entertainment value, I think, but I have become increasingly suspect of films involving a "Chosen One" whose glorious destiny is to walk into heavily-guarded buildings and kill everything that stands between him and his goal. I don't mind it, even like it, in KILL BILL: revenge, as a storytelling trope, I can take. But "Chosen Ones?" They bother me. I have always wanted to do a story set in some kind of fantasy milieu where the bunch of village wise men in some horribly oppressed society talk about the "chosen one" who's going to save them all -- and we see the "Chosen One" walking down the street as a child -- and a cornice-stone or something falls on the brat's head and smooshes him flat, leaves the village wise men wailing and moaning, and opens the story to a normal yutz who finds an opportunity to take the problem on himself, therefore establishing that all the crisis needed was somebody to get off his ass and stand up, and that waiting for chosen ones is a tactic for people with the mindset of slaves. By taking the expected tack, by positing a poorly-socialized geek whose real life is crap but who is a long-prophesized superhero in the virtual world, THE MATRIX and its ilk reinforce that mindset. And I do find that questionable.

Once again, rant exceeded expected length...sigh...ATC

Dorie Jennings
- Sunday, November 9 2003 7:9:32

You're not joking then?
Good grief. I was all set to praise that witty remark, Ashton Kutcher in the Butterfly Effect, good one, I can just imagine him.....but it's a real film? Sheesh. yeah, I should do some reading.

Harlan, of course we're keeping track, every one of us and no mistake...instead of good wishes I shall just say 'Yeah, that sucks.' Had something similar once, "spasmodic torticollis" which seized me in the parking lot of a Japanese restaurant and hung around for several days. The muscle relaxants worked, but over and over I'd forget DON'T turn my head to the left OWWWW shit I've done it again...also realized that one flexes those muscles when going from lying down to sitting, so I had to ROLL out of bed.

Barney Dannelke <dannelke01@enter.net>
Allentown, PA. - Sunday, November 9 2003 5:57:13


Saw the full trailer yesterday. While Kutcher is far from being my favorite young actor this actually looked pretty good. Sort of an update on Ken Grimwood's novel REPLAY. It was on my perhaps-a-matinee-rather-than-DVD list of things to see.

Looking at that last paragraph I realized that I not only don't have a "favorite" young male actor but that once I look at actors younger than say, Johnny Depp, they're not even on my radar.

Perhaps this is just a function of what there is yet to be learned. I look at older actors to show me all the ways that you can be older. Nobody can show you how to be younger. That's just a losing proposition.

- Barney

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Sunday, November 9 2003 5:53:44

Best Wishes for the Walking Wounded

I looked for the new Ellison article on the Variety website; you can get a 30 day trial subscription with an email address and no credit card. There are email addresses there for individual editors and reporters, making it possible to send a note of appreciation requesting more Ellison pieces. Which is the best kind of person to contact for that? They’ve listed everyone from Vice-President Editor-In-Chief to the ‘Dish Columnist’.

Apparently they don’t include V-Life articles in the web content, as the 17 Ellison references returned from a ‘Harlan Ellison’ search did not return anything later than 11/9/2003. Did pull up this charming little tidbit:

Presenting Christopher Knopf with the Edmond H. North Award for service to the WGA last year, sci-fi scribe Harlan Ellison wore a bathrobe and ascot -- explaining he was adhering to the request for "business attire."

Harlan, I sincerely hope you’re back in the saddle soon. The world’s a better place with you in fighting trim!

The official Newline ‘Butterfly Effect’ website was not fully functional when I visited it, but can be found at:


- Saturday, November 8 2003 16:5:54



St. Pete, FL - Saturday, November 8 2003 14:36:18

Harlan, have you tried a licensed massage therapist? They have worked wonders for me in eliminating/alleviating everything from headaches to severe back/shoulder strains in one session. Some make house calls...just a thought. Take care.

terry eagleton sucks
- Saturday, November 8 2003 14:29:16

Au contraire, leelinda. The French will disinter the bones of literary lions like Alexander Dumas if they feel he has not been suitably laid to rest with pomp and circumstance.
That alone is enough to make up for the sins you enumerate. Writers in France get grants and assistance from the government, in the US writers are a social liability i.e. bums. The closest thing to a cultural minister in the US is Monsieur Jesse Helms. This great sanctuary for Oscar Wilde, Henry Miller, etc. And whose poet Baudelaire said of Edgar Allen Poe "my brother my likeness". After Poe was buried with only Walt Whitman as a witness.

TEXAS - Saturday, November 8 2003 14:17:28

Well I was HOPING to get some sympathy here but after Harlan's description of what HE'S been dealing with my troubles seemed to have melted to the picayune.

I wanted pity for the whippin' I'm taking in the Gunslinger competition ( like a red headed step child they're beatin' me over there) and HARLAN has REAL problems. It's blessed relief that it isn't life threatening but I bet if FEELS like it is. Geeze I can't stand the slightest crick in my neck.

I wish Harlan speedy relief and return to non-pain status.....and I wish ME-- A SKY FILLED WITH FLYING BLUE MONKEYS all with taste that runs toward MY short film over the others to speed me on my way to the winning place and a date next spring as promised to meet Stephen King face to face.

But enough about me.

Get well Harlan- we need you in fightin' shape and can't stand the thought of you down.


Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
Lakewood, Colo. - Saturday, November 8 2003 13:9:48

"Scapular muscle spasm"? Godfrey Daniels. No, thanks. Don't want one. I gave at the office. Happy Vicodin and a merry advil.



- Saturday, November 8 2003 12:38:57


Not that anyone keeps track, but not hearing from me for the last five or so days is due to my being laid up, BIG TIME, with what Dr. Jon calls a "scapular muscle spasm." Kong-level hurting.

What it is, you ask, a "scapular muscle spasm"?

Y'know those two thick cordlike vertical bundles of muscles that run down the left and right sides of your neck, in the rear, attaching to the scapula, or shoulder blades? Well, picture the one on the left, dropping into the shoulder, that fat muscle right on top, all the way from the base of the neck behind the left ear ... picture it as a piece of wet laundry that you are squeezing all the water out of. Pardon the wonky preposition placement.

You're twisting the wet laundry, harder and harder, tighter and tighter, till the pain is so intense your eyeballs roll up.

That's been me, for at least five days. Can't stand up, can't sit down, can barely lie on my back in bed. So no new work gets done. I'm hoping to be ambulatory by Monday. Don't bother with good wishes, it ain't life-threatening, just a, well, to put it succinctly, a pain in the neck. I'm doped to those selfsame eyeballs with four Advil every three hours, Vicodin, and something called Flexeril for the spasm.

P.S. As Susan alerted you, V LIFE is a special magazine that accompanies Variety, the industry newspaper. It is, apparently, an insert (though it stands alone, slick and attractive), but all subscribers to Variety get it with their regular Variety. It can be obtained, I'm sure, by ordering separately. If you do so, please kindly mention my piece by name ... and they may give me future assignments. The chaos theory piece I wrote -- "The Captain of Fate" -- well, as best I can discern, it will be posted on some sort of website to promote the new Ashton Kutcher film, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT. It's a New Line Film, so you might start looking on that site, if it's up and running.

Back to bed. Cheese'n'crackers, am I in pain! ouch

Yr. invalided pal, Harlan

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Saturday, November 8 2003 11:56:11

more france
Also don't forget, the French recently gave Jean Le Pen an opportunity to be Prime Minister--sure he didn't have a chance, but the American equivalent would have been giving David Duke the presidential nomination of one of the major political parties. It seems like the lunatic fringe far right [not garden variety conservatives, mind you] has more political represenation over there than here, maybe it's due to the way their political system is set up. At any rate, not something to emulate.

So Frank, what did you think about Moore's assertion in his new book that "Mumia probably did kill that guy?" and that one of the biggest mistakes of the Left is their setting him up as some sort of innocent martyr?

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Saturday, November 8 2003 10:35:21

"Dooner, do some reading, V-Life is an insert in Variety magazine"

Variety is 'reading'?

Who woulda thunk it.


Cynical Girl
- Saturday, November 8 2003 10:12:58

*I* didn't know that V-life was an insert in Variety magazine. Can I still play in your sandbox?

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Saturday, November 8 2003 9:49:0

Follow the French !?

Getting directly to the part about agreeing with Frank on the matter of imitating France in any way: bad idea.

France is, lest we forget, a nation with a spectacular history of administrative failure that has produced among many other things the guillotine, dangerous traffic circles, Napoleon’s russian campaign, the rape of Haiti, an abandoned, unfinished Panama Canal and a noseless Sphinx.

With these high-water marks of French civil and social achievement behind them, it’s not surprising to find them where they are today: frying up their elderly and serving 'em up with freeee health care, thirty-five hour work weeks and six weeks of vacation for everyone, all paid for by drinking like a vampire from the neck of the EU, bitching eloquently and contributing nothing.

- Saturday, November 8 2003 8:59:24

Dear Dorman:

V-LIFE: November issue is out right now. HE has the cover essay "INFAMY:THE NEW FAME."

All best: Susan

Frank Church
- Saturday, November 8 2003 7:2:5

Dooner, do some reading, V-Life is an insert in Variety magazine.


Did you all know that the Matrix films are real big with the Jehovah's Witnesses? Are the film makers Watchtowerites in disguise?

And Benny (Little Whattshuu--pookie), it is ONLY A FILM! You will go see another film, and hopefully it will be a joyous experience. Now, brush and floss, and kiss your Ellison books nighty night. Sleep and dream of good things thumper.

Love ya guyyyy.


Justin, hope you are not implying Kill Bill is pornography; that would mean every kung fu, chop socky film is also porn. It is too comical and fun loving to be mean. Believe me, you are reading this from a guy who hates Pulp Fiction because of its dark tones.


I found a flub in the Michael Moore logic train: He talked about how places like France have free health care, and that we should be more like them, because they, "take care of their people." Michael, I love you like a brother, but the 15 thousand people (mostly elderly) who died because of the summer heat wave have only the French system to blame.

Imagine those many people dying in America! Michael, that's how the right get us--watch it.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Saturday, November 8 2003 0:16:38

Spirit Archives #12 is out!
Holy Molü! The new Eisner archives are out!

Today, I was lucky enough to acquire the new volume of Spirit sections featuring Eisner's first post-war work on The Spirit. After reading all the fine fill-in work by Lou Fine and Jack Cole that was reprinted over the past two years, I am amazed at the new bag of tricks that Eisner suddenly unveiled when he came home from the army. And DC is now using the original artwork or high quality photostats to make the archives (previous issues were made from restored newsprint sections because the artweork was lost), and the vivid beauty of Eisner's art is really coming through now. I recommend this volume as a good way to start reading Eisner, especially considering that there are BIG things to come over the next few years as they reprint the Spirit Sections from 1946 to 1949.

QUESTION FOR THE BOARD: When does V-Life come out this month? Does anybody know?

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Friday, November 7 2003 22:6:37

Well, it's nice to hear another good comment about _I, Robot_. And I haven't heard much good about _The Matrix Revolutions_, sad to say.

(I'd thought of a different plot-line or two. Yes, Zion's just another construct of the Matrix, to house unruly human brains. Turns out Neo's actually just another program, designed to expand the machine world's understanding of human nature. Turns out the Machines, by absorbing human nature, are starting to develop ambitions of expansion into the Universe... but they need human qualities to do it, and those qualities are in the people of Zion. They also explain that shutting down the Matrix would destroy those billions of human lives in the batteries... but if they continue as is, the people in them can enjoy fairly nice lives. Neo brokers a deal where the Zion people are put in charge of the machines' efforts to explore space. But humans remain in the tubes. Trinity continues to love him because, program or not, he's as human as anyone else. Morpheus, shattered over the revelations, dies nobly or futilely.

Or, how about this: the Matrix has nothing to do with Earth at all; as it turns out, the Matrix is simply the hallucination of an eons-old alien bio-computer which has simultaneously fragmented into billions of personalities, and which has been absorbing Earth radio-television signals for decades. Agent Smith is a manifestation of an Alzheimer's-like disease.

Or perhaps this as a really cheap-ass ending: Against all logic, the people of Zion manage to defeat the machines. They witness the towers of batteries falling, the meltdown of the machines, and the parting of the clouds around earth, revealing that the Matrix's "real world" is actually contained in a small dome... while the rest of the Earth is, in fact, a verdant, green paradise that's flourished ever since humans had been quarantined in the Matrix. As the people of Zion step out into Paradise, Neo notices a flicker in the corner of his eye. He suspects that this is just _another_ illusion, created by the Matrix to get the Zion people to shut up and be happy. He's right--but this time, he decides that he might as well accept _this_ fake reality, so he keeps his mouth shut and wanders off with Trinity.

- Friday, November 7 2003 21:32:46

There have been two times in my life when I felt shitty enough to flush down a toilet. The first was when I almost lashed out at my own brother during a hostile argument. The second was after seeing MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS.

There are times when I wish I owned the delicious verbal savagery of Samuel Clemens. I just simply cannot articulate my fathomless hatred for this movie. Have any one of you ever been SO angry, SO enraged beyond all measures of description, you literally can't SPEAK? Your very VOICE is choked by the towering inferno in your throat? That was pretty much my state of being upon leaving the theatre.

Damn those Wachowski maggots straight to hell, and damn me for participating in this whole diabolical cinematic excursion in the first place.

I feel inclined to take a plugged-in toaster along with me the next time I have a bath. I'll probably feel better in the morning.


Fanboy Central, - Friday, November 7 2003 19:46:48

Incredible. Just incredible.

I started reading the I, ROBOT screenplay over a sandwich, mid-afternoonish, and I just finished it. Missed two classes. "Impossible to...drag...ass to class...cannot...put book down!"


A good story is like an Umbrian dining experience--it leaves you buzzing afterward. That's what I feel like right now. I'd say that screenplay is the equivalent of piping hot bruschetta, followed by a plate of umbrichelli, topped with white truffles that are grated over the noodles before your very eyes, a steak slathered in black truffle sauce, followed by a melting square of tiramisu. All served by a gorgeous waitress, just to add a little extra aesthetic zing to the experience (Mark Zug's illustrations, see what I mean?).

Aghk! Hollywood is so goddamn stupid. I flat walked out of the last two pictures I went to see--I'm not saying which ones--because they were little more than pornography, catering to the diseased hive brain of a decadent and violent society. Mean-spirited codswallop, that's all it was. All about hurting people. And both of those movies were MAJOR releases! Meanwhile, a screenplay like I, ROBOT sits on the goddamn shelf.

I see that this book was published in '94, so I'm guessing the letters to Lucy Fisher (I'm assuming an avelanche of them) weren't enough. Curses...I should've read this sooner! Sure, I was thirteen when it was published, but I'd still have sent those mouth-breathing barnacle-brained louses at Warner Bros. a real choice letter! Is Fisher still there? Can I still write 'em? Can I? Pwease? *poing poing poing* Huh? Huh, can I, can I? Arrr. Bafflement. Disillusionment.

...Aw, but that don't matter none. I'm still buzzin'. I just saw I, ROBOT and it was the best movie I've seen in a long time. Thanks, Harlan!

With a big smile and a tip of the hat,


Frank Church
- Friday, November 7 2003 12:26:58

Now I understand why I couldn't find V-Life. He, he.

Thanks Dorman. But remember, Cindy saw me first. Wink.


Appreciate my fellow JK Rowling hater.

But, Bloom has a real love of classic literature--that cannot be debated--but his open mindedness is nill. The guy is a cultural snob and an old drudge, who drinks drano in his morning coffee.


I will admit to you all that the worst book so far this year is from a liberal, not a conservative. It belongs to Alan Colmes, of the Fox News Channel, who's book, Red, White And Liberal is just Gawd awful.

It is badly written, and sniveling in tone. He seems to rip off things that were in other books. And, his defense of Sean Hannity is sickening. He is one of these milk toast lib simps who think we should be nice to conservatives to show them we mean them no harm--that we come in love and tender caring for our fellow man. Makes me wanna barf.

He rips fellow liberals like Moore and Franken, and castigates the left for not being more civil. Yea, Alan, I will be civil to this bund of Bushy Nazi's--thanks for the advice. Blow me.

Remember what Harlan said about liberals and their failure to make a fist?

DTS <none>
- Friday, November 7 2003 10:41:44

SUSAN (didn't want to bug Harlan, 'cause it "sounds" like he's busy writing those new stories for STRANGE WINE and ELLISON WONDERLAND, among others): Do you know which issue of "Variety" features Harlan's latest essay? I know the essay is in V-Life, and I was told by folks who work at "Variety" that "V-Life" is a monthly insert to the main magazine. But the two young ladies I spoke with weren't able to pin down WHEN in November "V-Life" would appear in "Variety" (whew). I've got all the ordering info (address, how much the magazine costs). Now all I need to know is what issue I'd like to order so I can check out the new essay. And tell Harlan that the new material for BLOOD'S A ROVER (in the signed edtion of VIC & BLOOD) is Kazoo-blowing terrific. Can't wait to read more.

All best,
P.S. If anyone on the board -- probably living in the L.A. region -- already bought it and knows which Nov. issue of "Variety" contains the new Ellison essay, by all means chime in (and thanks in advance should you know).

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Friday, November 7 2003 10:32:33

But Jon, if you removed 90% of someone's brain, you'd be 90% likely to cut out the 10% that's being used.

Wouldn't that make the person capable of voting a burned out action hero into high office?

Jon Stover
Canada - Friday, November 7 2003 6:56:33

Ben: I think it's a case of old wine in new bottles. First we died for real when we died in our dreams. Now we die for real when we die in VR simulations.

And if I hear 'We only use ten per cent of our brains' one more time, I'm going to ask the speaker to submit to having 90% of his or her brain removed.

Cheers, Jon

terry eagleton sucks
- Thursday, November 6 2003 20:21:44

Regarding Brian Siano's contention that Harold Bloom "knows his classical literature" on the other message board,(I'm to lazy to register)I'd have to disagree with that. If you read Bloom's How to Read and Why he describes Edgar Allan Poe thusly "An ATROCIOUS writer who only reads well in translation, even into English"...Paralogical of Bloom to sneer that Stephen King "share's nothing with Poe" while his own assessment of that writer could be his opinion of King!

Although I agree with Bloom's flushing of the J.K. Rowling contagion.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Thursday, November 6 2003 19:59:28

Ben said, he said, he said:
"Random Thought For the Day
Ever noticed how in all of these fancy-pants virtual reality movies one character always says at some point in the plot, "If you DIE in the VR world...you DIE for REAL!"

Does that strike anybody as just plain dumb? I mean, why would I want to hook up to a video game where I'm liable to be turned into a buttermilk pancake in real life if I was trampled by a horde of wild elephants while exploring a virtual South Africa?"

_Futurama_ did a nice riff on that. The characters had to put on VR headsets to run tinyrobot versions of themselves to explore in Fry's intestine. Later on in the show, one of the characters' robot-avatars pulls out a sword and hacks the rest of them to bloody bits. Suddenly we cut back to the full-sized characters... who shrug, take off their headsets, and go on with life.

- Thursday, November 6 2003 19:23:48

Random Thought For the Day
Ever noticed how in all of these fancy-pants virtual reality movies one character always says at some point in the plot, "If you DIE in the VR world...you DIE for REAL!"

Does that strike anybody as just plain dumb? I mean, why would I want to hook up to a video game where I'm liable to be turned into a buttermilk pancake in real life if I was trampled by a horde of wild elephants while exploring a virtual South Africa?

Look, I wouldn't have played SUPER MARIO BROS. if there was a chance I'd spontaneously combust every time I got hit by a fireball from King frickin' Koopa.

Frank Church
- Thursday, November 6 2003 12:49:37

Glad to see they finally nabbed the Green River Killer, but I was expecting Hannibal Lector with a hook and a lower jaw that juts way beyond his forehead, but look at him--he looks like some dude you might see at a swap meet, or a rotary club meeting. Scary to always understand that the monster we most likely resemble has a trusting face, and a happy grin.

- Thursday, November 6 2003 11:14:48

Lee said,
"...the most accessible and beneficial meditations are obtained through mind-less repetition of pre-learned physical motions and also that not even fervent prayer can reproduce the deeply spiritual feeling that wells up out of a hot rolling sweat taken with plenty of water."

Tis true, tis true.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Thursday, November 6 2003 10:25:13

Did Someone Mention Meditation and Religion?

In my mind, the problem with static meditation and religion is that there’s such a fine line between autocatalysing the evolution of your inner space and simply sitting on your ass staring vacantly at a candle. Call it meditation or call it prayer; it works better if you do it while moving around. Aside from sixteen years of the ballet thang, I took yoga intensively for two years to control the pain from an injury (it worked), studied Kenpo karate with some focus on zen meditation for twelve years (still doing it), and have also explored and rejected transcendental meditation, Catholic, Protestant and christian science prayer, and whining sullenly at a God that never answers.

From these activities, interlaced through a period of about thirty years, I have concluded that the most accessible and beneficial meditations are obtained through mind-less repetition of pre-learned physical motions and also that not even fervent prayer can reproduce the deeply spiritual feeling that wells up out of a hot rolling sweat taken with plenty of water. If I could choose to be extraordinary in only one aspect of physical, mental or spiritual fitness, I would pick cardiovascular fitness in a heartbeat – everything else seems to follow in train behind it.

Dorie Jennings
- Thursday, November 6 2003 6:30:40

Illustrated Ellison
The illustrations I found most memorable were the Blue Jews in "I'm Looking For Kadak". Not for sheer artistic talent (that would have to be Mind Fields), only because they made me laugh, I think they're dead-on perfect representations of the characters described.

Jon Stover
Canada - Thursday, November 6 2003 6:2:25

Steve: Actually, Steve, they should refine the study as much as possible. Then we could all decide our religious preferences with the added help of taglines like "Unitarians -- 17% longer-lived than Seventh Day Adventists!"

Board: Well, here's a general question unrelated to vomiting robot-clown-dogs -- what's the best (or 'your favourite') comic adaptation of an Ellison work? I quite like the Marshall Rogers-illustrated Demon with a Glass Hand. The art's scarily crisp, if that makes any sense.

Take care, Jon

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Thursday, November 6 2003 5:40:16

Retiring From the Field
P. A. Berman: I can see that you are trying to move to higher ground oin this issue, but I think you are misrepresenting the discussion on this "prayer" thing. There were more than a few people who posted on either side of the question. Also, faith and unbelief is part of a reoccurring discussion here in the Webderland. I'm not sure you are being fair when you say we shouldn't engage in such conversations here.

My intention was never to publish a screed, but to inject some humor and skepticism into the discussion. Newsweek should never be considered a source for ANYTHING, and, as it turns out, the article doesn't say that "prayer" or "belief in God" extends your life. It merely says that "going to church," yes, "church attendance" extends your life, which is meaningless baloney.

Though I was a touch abrasive, I wanted to try to raise some qualitative aspects of the discussion in my posts, P. A., like: What does prayer mean? Is prayer always positive? Is prayer more often spiritual or materialistic? Perhaps I should have taken another tact, but porr Rob was just trying to engage in the discussion fully, and he got all beat up.

Is this topic relevant for the board? Well, the topic could bear, albeit tangentially, on Harlan's works, in that I keep imagining some great Tick-tock Man shortening people's lives because they failed to attend church.

I do admire your your desire to simmer things down, though, and recognize my poor attempts at humor may have been misplaced.

Yours until my cardio-plate is shut down,

Steve Dooner

Rick <webmaster@harlanellison.com>
- Wednesday, November 5 2003 22:19:30

Rules, schmules
As I believe I've said here before (and if not, as I believe I am now saying for the first time):

I don't bring down the hammer the first time someone accidentally posts twice in one day when they intended to wait until the next day, as long as it was obviously an unintentional breach and they have the good grace to not post that entire next day. Additionally, an immediate double-post entirely devoted to correcting a typo or mistake in the previous post (NOT to add an addendum or more thoughts!) is usually okay as long as there are no intervening posts between the two and/or a very small amount of time has passed between them.

This is NOT to say it is not still against the rules, just that in these circumstances I am inclined to, as a certain New Jersey waste management executive might say, give you a pass.

Having said that, the management is not deaf to the messages you have been winging my way through the ether. I have sent PAB a cease-and-desist email, and asked Rob to take an unpaid vacation from the board over this weekend.


P.A. Berman
- Wednesday, November 5 2003 21:50:47

Now I'm gonna triple post to say, where I am it's not Wednesday anymore and hasn't been for almost an hour, so mea maxima culpa on that. Is this board on PST? Mucho apologies to Rick; I really thought it was tomorrow. Going away now...


P.A. Berman
- Wednesday, November 5 2003 21:49:3

Frank: Thanks for the apple and glad to be back, though don't count on seeing me much. I'm awful busy (report cards are due).

Steve? Rob? Brilliant rhetoric on both your parts, but no one is arguing with either of you, a fact you both seem to be missing utterly. I personally have zero interest in what other people do in their spirutal lives, and did not express an opinion about prayer whatsoever in my posts. Neither did Frank really. So who, exactly, are you arguing with?

No, I only mentioned brought the subject up in order to point out a fascinating phenomenon: how some people can take one line in someone's post, said in jest as a toss-off, and turn it into a tirade (noun: a long, blustering speech, usu. of censure), going so far as to unrepentantly DOUBLE POST in order to repost pearls of wisdom posted earlier that day, that were never really in question anyway, esp. on pet topics. Not to mention the unnecessary personally insulting comments thrown in along the way.

I think I've made my point about this and you, Rob, missed it, and took Steve to Missed the Point Hell with you. If you feel that you must go off and post a screed (noun: a long, repetitious piece of writing), do it on the Forum. The Pavilion is not the place for going on at length, nor to post more than once a day. Right?


Still Underemployed
far east of the flames, - Wednesday, November 5 2003 19:25:8

Damn! I was all set to apply for the job of Audioanimatronic Whatever.

AZ - Wednesday, November 5 2003 15:5:57

My Vote Is In!!
***My vote is in--for you Cindy! Good luck!! Interesting that the film I liked least-" The Gunslinger and the man in Black " is winning so far...

Frank Church
- Wednesday, November 5 2003 13:17:6

Rob, I'd suspect that prayer is merely the intense relay of endorphins into the body from positive thinking. In my curmudgeonly way, I am fucked no matter what. We are both as idealistic as pit bull's on crack.


Paula, welcome back. Your red pencil is always welcome. Here's an apple teach. De-wormed for your eating pleasure.


Todd, Paul Krugman would have something to say about your false rosy picture on the economy. The stock market doesn't represent the "real" economy. Those 3 million lost jobs will not come back, and real wages have gone down. And the false positives are because of early christmas shopping. You will see the numbers subside soon.

This is not a partisan rant. The same rosy picture was used during Clinton's watch, and it was false as well. The one big lie that Al Franken cannot take back.


Yes, I did go to Rim Of The World School, but I never told you what year. Wink.


Mark, Moore had the usual wild, large crowd. Lots of hoots and applause. Good, funny slams on Bush. As he gets older, Moore gets more radical. I wanted to hug the guy, but I chilled and shook his hand. Nice night. Not as good as Harlan would be, but who is.

P.A. Berman
- Wednesday, November 5 2003 11:38:11

Rob: Did you actually... DOUBLE POST yesterday just to go off on a TIRADE against me for making a joke? See, this is the exact kind of behavior that I called hilarious. I am, at this very moment, laughing. Honestly, Rob, take some time to reflect. Also, consider taking up a hobby outside the house. I wish I had your kind of free time to compose such lengthy screeds. Truly you are man to be envied.

Love and kisses,
The Bermanator, lovin' to push those honkin' big buttons

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Wednesday, November 5 2003 10:38:27

Whoops! That was my mistake. The previous post is obviously by me Steve Dooner. I do not wish to get Rob in any trouble for exceeding his daily limits. I fully menat to place my name in the box.

Rob <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Wednesday, November 5 2003 10:35:45

Got My Polyesther Prayer Handkerchief and My Plastic Rosary Beads


I got mah polyesther prayer handkerchief and mah plastic roasry beads and I'm ready to have a nice long life span.

Oh, but I'm sure I've made some folks recoil. Surely, the above implements of prayer are not genuine forms of praying. No, only the enlightened "non-cheesy" kind of praying counts. Ohhhh, but did ever consider that maybe that isn't the kind that lengthens your life?

Hey, maybe it's all the people who pray against other people to hurt them or to take their things--maybe they get the long life spans. Or maybe it's the folks who pray to get money or success. Maybe it's all them there grammy winners who go about thanking Jesus for their latest masterpiece of misogyny. Or perhaps its the boxer who thoroughly trounces his opponent with Jesus in his mind. Best yet, maybe it's all those war prayers-- like the ones Mark Twain wrote about--that makes you live longer. Heck, we Americans have longer life-spans than those heathen Iraqis, so our prayer must please the Lord and increase our longevity. I don't even have to do a study; I can jsut look up the demographics and draw the conclusion.

I even know people who have lived off sheer hatred for years longer than they should have. Has anybody done a study on why mean people live so damn long? Perhaps meaness is a form of prayer.

Getting longevity based on hatred, ghettoism, materialism, racism and rank nationalism hardly seems worth it. I would extend this to most forms of prayer.

One last thing for those who never look outside of Western culture, Ananda K. Coomaraswammy was mystified that people in the West actually pray to get things. Hmmmmmm.

Glad to go to hell with ya, Rob.

Steve Dooner

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Wednesday, November 5 2003 10:2:13


The test went okay--I had a little trouble on the typing because they made you use the 10-key but I still passed and that's all that matters. I think I'll probably get a position based on my previous work, especially since it was for another government agency. I don't think it will be a permanent thing but it should last a few months. I have no idea when they'll start or when any kind of decision will be made though.

- Wednesday, November 5 2003 9:37:35

Amazon may actually have some issues here...
I wasn't able to pick up any short stories, but I was able to get to some essays by typing in certain words. And something else.

I typed in "it was a pleasure to burn" in the search field to see what I could come up with and it did bring me to the book, but it only allows you to look at two pages and then it sent me to the blurbs on the back cover. So it looks like the maximum you can see is three pages.

HOWEVER, just out of curiousity I typed in "guy said" in the "Search Inside this book" and it brought me to various pages throughout the book. Given that, you literally can read the book online if you are so inclined by typing certain phrases (he said, she said, etc.). It's a pain in the ass to do, but it can be done. Also, you can't cut and paste the words, but a screen shot can be done and from there it's not much problem getting the words to appropriate application to make it more palatable.

So it looks like there actually may be a problem 'cause you can (with a little work) get the whole book without paying for it.

DTS <none>
- Wednesday, November 5 2003 8:20:50

Copyright problems at Amazon.com
HARLAN: Don't know if you and/or your group of legal eagles already know about this (it's been a subject of some discussion on the internet of late), but this column by John Savage about Amazon.com's new "search" tool (that allows potential browsers to check out parts of the book), might be of some interest to you:

Haven't tried it myself, but according to John Savage, the new "search tool" didn't account for anthologies...and apparently, some of the customers are finding themselves able to download entire stories or essays (because the "search tool" sees them as portions of a larger work).

Of course, if Mr. Savage is already working for you (the name do sound familiar), nevermind.
All best,


Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
WalshyXanadu (Cost: No man can say!) - Wednesday, November 5 2003 6:6:48

CINDY: Glad I gave you a boost. And glad the website acknowledged the film.

FRANK: How’s was Moore’s lecture? I missed his talk at UMASS Dartmouth because the school made it nigh impossible for anyone not a student to get tickets, and I’m an alum, for Chrissakes.

CBS pulled out from showing “The Reagans.” Damn! Another Liberal plot foiled by Wil E. Republicans. Yup, those bed-wetting Liberal corporate executives at Viacom couldn’t stand up to a fair and balanced Internet-fomented rebellion. Now that us lefties can’t lick our chops over a fictional account of a Republican icon, what to do? Well, guess we’ll just have to tune into a real Republican failure taking place in Iraq. And we can always count on 19th Century Fox News to take care of our lurid taste for fiction.


- Tuesday, November 4 2003 23:24:5

...And He TAKES The Bait!


Be damned if muh ego’s gonna let THAT one go by.

Tirade: "A prolonged outburst of bitter, unspoken denunciation"

Now, PAB. As they must say time and time again in the Women’s Clubs, "PUH-LEEZE".

If you can call what I wrote Frank a "tirade" I’d hate to see how badly you must lose domestic fights. Just HOW did I get slapped with that one, anyway? Steve Dooner's response was a far more in-your-face challenge than mine (sorry, Steve, but if I have to go ta Hell I'm takin' you with me). In fact, my tone was restrained and complaisant and to-the-point. The hardest note I hit was "belay the sermon and faulty reasoning" in my closer, and an honest assessment about what people try to use to argue their faiths. THAT’S a tirade? EVEN if Frank had not explicitly stated he believes the validy of what I laughingly refer to as a study, I do think he buys into it...EASY. And to infer that Frank tosses in rhetorical grenades now and then just to mess with our gyros is, in my opinion, giving him too much credit. Frank says what he believes and believes what he says.

Hey...I’m going to put the evidence where everyone can see it - and then you be pointin’ me out where I dun "tiraded", Miz Daisy:

"Any state of relaxation eases internal body function. The more stress is alleviated the more chances are added to a longer life span. That’s what meditation is for (which many good Atheists do). And meditation comes in MANY forms – Zen, transcendental, prayer, it doesn’t matter. Belief – whatever it is you prefer to indulge – CAN play a role, but it doesn't HAVE to. There are many ways to achieve the same end. The key is in whatever it takes to focus your mind and relax you into controlled breathing. But supernatural faiths don’t HAVE to factor in at ALL. The key is focusing the mind; that’s what draws you away from life’s stresses tearing subtly at your physical state over the years. Whatever the catalyst, when you enter a state of meditation – of internal relaxation or tranquility – tangible physiological effects take place in the cerebral cortex: increased EEG, blood flow to the brain, muscle relaxation, and a decrease in stress hormones. TM seems to increase efficiency of information transfer in the brain and lower heart and respiration rates, and INCREASE reflex responses. This contributes to health, endurance, and well-being.

Whether it’s in the discipline of the Chi, or breathing exercises, or even just an escapist daydream (as an artist, that one tends to be MY route out of the world), or prayer it regulates your metabolic state and therefore effects your term on Eoith.

So, belay the sermon and faulty reasoning. Because all emotions are physical activity, and whatever allows you to eliminate the physical pressures your emotional state can inflict (possibly the biggest contributor to a shorter life) will work. It's an issue of whatever works for YOU: but in itself it neither confirms (however illusory) nor disproves the existence of supernatural beings. (It is in human nature to often fall back on a conveniently fallacious argument, overlooking the obvious, to reassure oneself of one’s blind faith.)"

You and Frank are prayer freaks. I understand. And that's fine. All those methods work, depending on how you're wired. Just understand, no external entity is causing it to work. YOU are. That there's whatcha call yer clincher.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Tuesday, November 4 2003 21:46:18

The End of Todd Cassel

Hey, everbody! Lookit! I just learned who Frank Court really is! It's not what everbody was thinking, actually, he ….

Broad shouldered shadow slides across wall as Frank Court moves silently away, trusty meathook glistening wetly.

TEXAS - Tuesday, November 4 2003 20:0:17

Laid off!
Those bastards didn't deserve you. Keep thinking postively and something will pop up and it will be far better than what you had before-- I'm sure of it. In the meantime know that I'm praying for your new, improved, higher paying job to come barrelling down the pike. And you KNOW God listens to Lutherans.
Thank you for checking out my film. Yes, I am the narrator. I could have done better if I had given myself more time to tape. But NOOOOOOOOOOO I thought the narration was going to be the EASY part. I talk on the radio EVERY DAY what's a little minute long piece? I could do it in my friggin' SLEEP!!!!! Right?

Uh huh, dead WRONG.

I screwed myself on THAT aspect of it. As it stands Gus Krieger ( number one competition) has me whipped six ways from Sunday on the music and the graphics-- his narration is the bees too. His proficiency with the medium made me feel like Ned in the first reader.... but in certain ways it was like watching someone play a beautiful, glimmering saw with supernatural dexterity. However... no matter how haunting the melody, long about the third minute of that saw playin' and you're wishin' you had a barrel and a short path to Niagra Falls.

Another competitor was writing something on a piece of paper-- I saw the hand and the paper but my eyes couldn't make out what he was writing so I can't judge. Maybe it was something profound... maybe he deserves to win for that.

The entry currently riding high in the second place saddle-- with quite a bit of daylight between us was by Robert Cochrane. In HIS film he portrays two different characters and does such a fine job of it in that it's tough to tell that it's the same man acting both parts. His crow impersonation-- on the other hand-- was rancid bad-- but no more so than my lever action shotgun shuckin' standing in for a revolver action.

So there you have it.

I'm honored to be in the four finalists-- really it was huge for me to make it in...but I really, REALLY want to win. I want to be the one who gets to talk with Stephen King for a moment.


Joel McLemore,
How'd the exam go? You got the job- yes? I hope so!


Thank you so much!!!!! It means alot to me that you watched it.

Mark Walsh, I LOVE THAT-- "wicked aahtistic".
I really can't tell you how much I appreciate you watching it... and what you wrote made my night.

Thank you too! Sorry about the quicktime.


At this time my little film has slipped to a dismal third on Stephen King's Gunslinger's list-- with the current fourth place holder nipping at my heels and ankles. The winner will be determined by number of votes cast on the voting site. EVERY vote for me will make a HUGE difference and in the end could send me to meet Stephen King in New York-- at which time he would fill my arms with signed books.

LOVELY, LOVELY image, don't you think? Please help send this girl to camp-- err I mean please help send me to New York!

Go to


click on "Video Gallery"

That will take you to the voting place-- where you can vote for me-- if you like my film better than the others. If you DON'T like my film best just go ahead and vote for me anyway.


Awww Susan,
Didja HAVE to rub it in? You got the new Edith Piaf CD!!!
I'm verdant.

- Tuesday, November 4 2003 19:12:28

A few tings. Foist...SUSAN: My HERC shipment came in today! Thankyouthankyouthankyou! I love everything, and I shall shuffle off to bed tonight with one very handsome, autographed (thanks Harlan) copy of the I, ROBOT ILLUSTRATED SCREENPLAY tucked under my arm. Monday I got my copy of THE SEVEN WHO FLED, but Ellison stuff preempts even Ellison reccomendations.

Secondly, in an effort to formulate some form of post-college plan--as opposed to stumbling through life like a 'visitor at LegoLand'--I contacted the University of Arizona's Peace Corps representative, and next week we will be initiating a process that could put me on track to becoming a volunteer after college. Nothing's definite and they're pretty selective, or so they claim, but I thought I'd mention it. The meeting next week will be to assess what I could do in the Peace Corps. Though I'm sure that teaching English is the only thing I'm really qualified to do. Well, heh heh, that and one other thing...eef you know what I'm sayeen! Sorry... Oh, and we'll also be figuring out WHERE my particular talents could be put to use. The guy I'm meeting with next week served for 4 years in Africa, so he likes to send people there. Thoughts? Anyone, anyone?


Oh, and a super-belated Happy Birthday to Lyyn!

- Tuesday, November 4 2003 18:26:30


"They are the contents of the DREAM CORRIDOR books, so you can save yourselves the weird exchanges that have me working with an audioanimatronic whatever."

Why do you make that sound like a bad thing? You got a problem with Jim Henson, buddy-boy?

(Yes, my tongue is firmly implanted in my cheek.)

(Sort of.)

John Thompson
- Tuesday, November 4 2003 17:51:17

Isn't prayer an attempt to interfere with God's will? And is it possible to live without any beliefs? I don't need to believe in the sun to know it exists. The danger with belief is it messes with our perceptions. We want, say, an afterlife, so badly that we will jump at the flimsiest evidence, or even no evidence at all.

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Tuesday, November 4 2003 15:48:40

Dude, Where's My Intellectual Honesty?
Saw an article on one of those websites that skewers lies in the media [do a Google search on my subject line and you'll probably find it.] Most of the time they're attacking various right-wingers but they sure seem to have it in for Michael Moore as well. Sometimes I wonder if Moore isn't actually a double agent of some sort.

Well, off to my exam.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Tuesday, November 4 2003 15:6:42

Mystery Of Frank - Soon To Unravel?
OK all you webheads with the ability to find anything and everything available on the net....a piece of the intriguing puzzle known as "Frank Church" might have just come available.

Of course, I am too lazy and time-disabled to do this myself; but I'm sure someone out there would love to work the puzzle.

Unless his comment on attending Top Of The World High School was another Church-Facade, I think we just got a good clue to find out who the real Frank Church is. Or at least pinpoint an age on a man who appears to live forever.

Who is Frank Church? What does Alumni.Com have to say about him (if you were so disposed as to enroll to run a search)? Is he an alumni, or is he in fact a Freshman with a propeller spinning atop his beanie? The clue has been dropped: have at him!

Not too obsessed, am I?

Oh, and Frank, as for the Reagan movie.....Bwahahahahaha. For once, it's the Far Right that managed to shoot down a left-leaning show instead of Vice Versa. What a riot.....you guys must be shitting bricks over the good news about the economy and the fact that the liberal media has become a myth. What the hell are the Naive Nine going to campaign about next year?


James Palmer <palmerwriter@yahoo.com>
Gainesville, Georgia - Tuesday, November 4 2003 14:33:43

Have you approached the Skiffy Channel about doing DREAM CORRIDOR? I know that may be as much of a long shot as any of the other networks, seeing as how they traded Farscape for Tremors: the Series and Crossing Over with John Edward, but it might bare looking into.

Still lurking even though I'm a big fan, James Palmer

P.A. Berman
- Tuesday, November 4 2003 14:1:5

Harlan: So what are the chances of a DREAM CORRIDOR show ever actually happening? Any networks show the slightest bit of interest? Do you even want it to happen? And, would loosing your flying monkeys to write letters even remotely help that situation? Personally, I'd love to see your mug on TV every week.

I just have to say, I think it's so hilarious that Frank writes a throwaway one-liner about the possibility of prayer being good for a person's health and somehow, Rob turns it into a 100 line tirade about the true nature of "prayer," complete with a totally misplaced accusation a faulty logic to Frank (who barely said anything), and an equally loquacious rebuttal to someone who defended prayer as such. Ticklesome indeed. It's good to know that the same old buttons can still be pressed by the slighest brush of a keystroke...

Keep truckin', Frank; you keep this place lively, if sometimes only by accident.


Frank Church
- Tuesday, November 4 2003 13:37:4

Michael Moore has number one book again, but right wing still has the power to ko that Reagan film on CBS. I gotta say it, this is one strange ass country.

- Tuesday, November 4 2003 13:7:19


Ladies and gents: the format of any tv anthology series I would assay already exists. That's why I did the DREAM CORRIDOR magazines. The format, series opening, dialogue, interstitial scenes and commentaries ALREADY EXIST!! They are the contents of the DREAM CORRIDOR books, so you can save yourselves the weird exchanges that have me working with an audioanimatronic whatever. Good of you to ruminate, but this one's already settled, gang.

Working hard, yr. pal, Harlan

AZ - Tuesday, November 4 2003 12:32:38

***Congrats Cindy! Just saw your film.

California - Tuesday, November 4 2003 9:56:18

I'm sure this idea is in the works by one of the three independent production companies, but one thing that would sell any prospective anthology series is talent. Get major players the way that the 80s version of THE NEW TWILIGHT ZONE was sold to CBS. Go after top writers and directors. Nab talent far and wide. Surely, Harlan knows enough people who would be willing to lend themselves to this project (Robin Williams, Samuel L. Jackson, Stephen King) -- people who, in the eyes of an executive, would draw people into the show. That seems to be the operating principle behind CARNIVALE, which is more about featuring acting talent of all stripes rather than creating the best story possible. (The minute the main character was revealed as a magical healer, complete with the lack of subtlety of a crippled girl shackled in a Radio Flyer, I tuned out, realizing they were adhering to cliches.)

You could sell it like TALES FROM THE CRYPT (ironically, an early cable anthology series that played on this idea and lasted some SEVEN years), but include Harlan as the narrator and emphasize the recherche and the truly twisted. Instead of going for the E.C. Comics homage, why not have Harlan as an aggro cross between P.T. Barnum and Bob Wilkins? Play off the safety of viewers and emphasize horrific components. (HARLAN ELLISON'S EDGEWORKS?) If the suits want figures, you need only point to current box office grosses that reflect current audience desperation. A shitty remake of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, SCARY MOVIE 3 and JASON VS. FREDDY. People WANT to be scared and horrified. Now more than ever. And they're willing to sanction almost any piece of turd in an effort to find that feeling. Just imagine if the efforts were applied to something intelligent, non-derivative and truly terrifying.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Tuesday, November 4 2003 9:30:28

Right now, I _really_ like the idea of doing Lee's idea. Only we get an actor to play Harlan, and we change his character's name to something completely unlike "Harlan." The show could _buy_ Harlan's stories to adapt them, but they actually _do not actually adapt them_, and in fact, none of Harlan's stories ever gets adapted fo this particular show. And I think it'd be _really great_ if we could somehow make sure that the show never actually gets on the air, so that there will be absolutely _no remote possibility_ of Harlan having to perform with murderous/suicidal Muppet-like automatrons.

Now, if we could make sure that any and all royalties go to Harlan without his name being connected with it in any way, I think we have a winner, here.

On a lighter front, I just picked up a wonderful book. Titled _Tragically, I was an Only Twin_, it's a collection of Peter Cook's writing. Includes the transcripts of his radio shows with Chris Morris, his sketches with Dudley Moore, his _Private Eye_ columns... Just wonderful.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Tuesday, November 4 2003 8:52:53

Blinky the Clown does Dream Corridor

If Harlan did ask for help in formulating a universally attractive format for the ‘Dream Corridor’ series, I think the animatronic sidekick idea is definitely on the right track. But it might draw a larger number of viewers from the ‘Beavis-and-Butthead’ demographic if it went more toward LA High Concept. I’m thinking Lucille Ball meets the Kenny theme from ‘South Park’. A tragically sober Blinky the Clown could play Lucy, eternally murdering the hapless side-kick, hoping eventually to replace him.

Harlan would still be the centerpiece, trying gamely to interact intelligently with a mindless puppet (it’s not like he hasn’t already done a lot of that in production studio dealings), but each intro would end inevitably with Harlan ripping into the puppet. He could start out the season with very simple cut-dodge-riposte stuff, by way of training up his audience, and end the season raging like the force of nature that he is; a verbal progression paralleling one of those really good jugglers that starts with three rubber lacrosse balls, as if that’s something very difficult, but then builds slowly up to tap dancing Bach’s ‘Joy of Man’s Desiring’ on a xylophone while juggling broken cyanide bottles, live hand grenades and a pissed-off alley cat.

It goes without saying that the side-kick turns up gruesomely dead at the end of each show. Harlan’s suspicion of Blinky would build through the episodes until the end of the season, when he would finally reach under the coffee table and push the big red ‘Kill Blinky’ button. A working copy of the many-legged Hound from Fahrenheit 451 would then drop from the ceiling and persue Blinky like a bad nightmare through the ‘burbs of LA, killing the hapless clown at last somewhere on the Walk of Fame in downtown Hollywood.

Credits roll with a victorious Harlan standing by the deactivated Hound and holding up the still-beating heart of Blinky, breathing hard with blood-lust like a latter day Magwah. But the camera, panning back from this final tableau to incorporate into the scene one of those patently blood-red polluted LA sunsets, would pass unexpectedly across the grim make-up smeared face of a clown-gone-Rambo, flesh wounds sewn neatly closed with polyester clown-suit material and just cracking the seal on a good-sized bottle of lab-grade ethanol.

‘Happy friggin’ next season to YOU.’

adam-troy <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Tuesday, November 4 2003 4:51:41

Hitchcock's Gay Subtexts
There's a gay subtext to "Strangers on a Train" as well, which is restored in the current special-edition DVD; it was considered racy enough to remove for American consumption at the time.

One possible animatronic sidekick for Harlan -- the mad dog who knees us in the groin again. (THAT would be a recurring theme.)

- Tuesday, November 4 2003 3:19:32


"I've been laid off. I am now in the ranks of the unemployed. Zippity fuggin' doo-dah."

Welcome to Hell, man.

I used to feel pretty lonely down here. But it's become a mother of a populace. No slowing the head count either.

Yet life here, once you get used to it, isn't quite THAT bad: clean and temperate, it seems like all the comforts of home, once you get used to the sulphur fumes. You will need to bring a sleeping bag or bedroll, and pillow if desired.

Activity here is another thing: all we really get to do is watch those blessed few get the annual check-ups we weren't worthy of. And those of us who were once ahead in the game and EXPERIENCED the good fortune of a med plan, then had it snatched away...feel a bit like a neutered football team.

Ah...just think of it as your Room with a View.


"one of the doctors said that one's longevity is 90% genetic"

Utterly true. I think the statement, "extending ones lifespan" is often misconstrued. It means, simply, maximizing longevity in terms of how kind your genetic inheritence plans to be. It means eliminating or minimizing that multitude of factors that can cut you short of an age you'd otherwise be able to reach (which varies for every individual). FREE RADICALS are a major contributor to the problem, no matter what. This is what the genome labs are all about.


"Prayer and religious observations ...to each his own."

Take a look at my post. That's essentially what I said (though I was addressing a different argument). And I'm an Atheist. But you, also, seem to be addressing a different argument...one I don't see anyone having made. No one has misplaced any "atheistic revulsion of religion at an organizational level onto the common man". But a silly issue had been raised and an astute response was provided. In missing the point I think you're being an over-reactor. If I'm missing something, by all means straighten it out.


In an earlier post, in my haste, I used the wrong word responding to Adam-Troy's statement: I wanted to "challenge" his statement, not "argue" it.

You're incorrect. In the sense, at least, that your comment was too sweeping. There were lots of anthology shows that had a solid run. I listed 'em, among the best examples being TALES FROM THE CRYPT and Bradbury's. (Another I just remembered was Joseph Wambaugh's POLICE STORY, ending in '88. Very successful). They had a solid following and lasted several seasons. My argument, however...maybe I should say my speculation...is that they worked because they had a distinction that appealed to their demographic audiences. Most of these shows set new ground (in some way) so that anything else coming along would just be a pathetic imitator to cash in (such is the nature of the tube). I THINK that's mostly why efforts after that decade were screwed. You HAVE to have that catch (that part you got right). Some unique angle that doesn't read "gimmick".

BTW, Hitchock's genius is that he SEEMED to meander...but he always got to the point...and, man, it's often funny as hell to watch. He did demonstrate a great ability at improv, though, in an early sound test reel for BLACKMAIL (1929), aiming lotsa naughty talk at his gorgeous blonde starlett for the film. What I'm saying is at least SOME of his stuff was scripted - mostly by HIM, I think - with possibly some moments of improv.

The inevitable digression:


I'm not used to seeing that in movies from the late 30's.

...which leads me down the meandering path to this week's movie recommendation: SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS. Beautiful layered film from the novel by David Guterson about racial and cultural conflict shortly after Japanese-Americans had been rounded up for the internment camps. RENT it.

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Monday, November 3 2003 22:9:59

i grow old, i grow old....
The woman who held the record for oldest person died over the weekend--in the newspaper article one of the doctors said that one's longevity is 90% genetic, and that's what I tend to believe. You can do a lot of things to shorten your life, but not much to lengthen it.

And hey, wish me luck, I have an exam tomorrow for a possible job. It will probably be only seasonal work, but my last gig started out that way too and I wound up getting a full-time job after about a year. My wife and I are both also applying for some university jobs--personally I'd rather do that anyway, but we really need something to work out over the next couple of months, because we can't live off of EBay sales forever [though we're doing okay right now.]

- Monday, November 3 2003 21:57:51

On the other hand...
...those who practice introspective rituals such as prayer and meditation have been given better tools to cope with stress, and it has been scientifically proven that the physical reactions to stress do age a body more quickly. Do a side-by-side photo comparison of the U.S. presidents, one from the day they're inaugurated, one from the day they leave office, and you can see the physical toll that stress takes.

Prayer and religious observations are beneficial on a personal level (i.e. there's a reason it's still around despite all the political bullshit). Please don't misplace your atheistic revulsion of religion at an organizational level onto the common man who needs the tools to survive in a chaotic, senseless world. To each his own.

~ l e v e n d i s ~

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Monday, November 3 2003 20:19:40

An atheist by any other name

Frank: Since many Japanese people now consider themselves atheists ever since the decline of the Empire in the forties, do they die earlier than Westerners? Are they figured into this culturally biased study?

Also, many Buddhists adhere to the idea that all the gods are within our own consciousness--what some call "perfect atheism." Do Buddhists die earlier than followers of Western religion? Or is this a "No non-western religions need apply" kind of survey?

I wonder if what is meant by "atheism" is a kind of extrovert and resistant behavior common to the Western religious tradition, a tradition that has generally not rewarded people for thinking differently. I agree that your average atheist in this culture is more put upon, but I still doubt the viability of the survey.

These surveys are always a kind of holy-roller baloney. Bad science--that's all. These surveys never really exclude all the variables that determine life expectancy. Do rich people live longer than poor? Do Republicans live longer than Democrats? Do left-handed people live longer than right-handed people? Do straight people live longer than gay people? Do denominational religious folk live longer those who are non-denominational? Do majorities live longer than minorities? Pointing out that believers live longer than atheists is a meaningless distinction meant to promote an agenda.

Newsweek is trying to teach us poor, benighted souls a moral lesson meant to help norm the population into acceptable behavior. We will get exactly what we deserve if we listen to this stuff: a cowardly robotic congregation of the faithful.

Steve Dooner

Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
Etc., Etc. - Monday, November 3 2003 18:50:58

Well, I say your video, Cindy. Nicely done, I thought. Who was the narrator? Was it you? I thought the slow-mo on the shattering rocks was effective and well-composed. I still couldn't help think of your injury. No more suffering for your art, right? And, yeah, anyone who has been around firearms would recognize the sound of a lever action rifle, but those not familiar with them might not.

As far as the fantasy anthology series is concerned, I thought about the animatronic sidekick for Harlan and pictured an animatronic (or cgi) mini-me version of Harlan. He could really pop off angrily about a particular subject while the live Harlan could be the more reasonable side. Some of the more interesting exchanges would be when they were on opposite sides of each other, each character being a manifestation of the younger and older man.

On an earlier posting, I advised an immediate check on heart functions if a person had any suspicions of heart problems. Brian asked what a person without health insurance could possibly do. It got me thinking, but now I guess I might find out first hand. I've been laid off. I am now in the ranks of the unemployed. Zippity fuggin' doo-dah.


Jon Stover
Canada - Monday, November 3 2003 15:31:9

In Honour of Frank "Atticus" Church
This one's for you Frank -- the subject line and email I sent to a bunch of friends back in August after watching To Kill A Mockingbird on the CBC. Take care, Jon


"It was the year Boo Radley came out..."

Oh, come on, you know where this one's going right from the subject heading...

So I was watching _To Kill A Mockingbird_ on Saturday night and I
started to wonder if Boo Radley were gay. There's the line above that Scout utters in the closing narration. There's the sheriff saying to Atticus that Boo "with his shy ways" would be devastated if all the town's women started coming over if his heroism were revealed (not men, mind you -- women. Women carrying food.)

Thematically this would make TKAM even richer, because the gay outsider Boo would manage to enact justice for the African-American outcast Tom Robinson after insider justice (ie. Atticus and the state) has failed.

Scout's pretty butch too. You ever notice that?

Don't even ask what the rabid dog that Atticus shoots symbolizes,
standing there growling and shooting white foam out of his mouth until Atticus shoots it with his big, long rifle.

No, I'm not serious.

Cheers, Jon

Steven Prete <Yalzton@aol.com>
LI, NY - Monday, November 3 2003 15:20:31

Praying for long life
Those studies you always see about prayer and belief having an effect on health are hardly continuing science. Yeah, they report on them when they come out, but then when an independent team tries to verify the study and finds it was done wrong, nobody seems to care. There are tons of factors they usually fail to control, and there is also the possibility that instead of the prayer being effective due to supernatural agents, that it is actually due to the mind-body connection and the fact that those who have people praying for them usually have more family support and are kept in better spirits. And the big thing they never control for is that they let the people know they're being prayed for. Kind of like giving people a pill to test its efficacy and telling them whether it's the real medicine or a sugar pill.

Cynical Girl
- Monday, November 3 2003 15:7:12

Hell For Harlan...catchy, I like it! better than "leather"....

- Monday, November 3 2003 15:5:11


Although I still may need back that brochure I lent you sooner than I thought, you're my FIRST buying customer; if ONLY you were a studio exec. Indeed, I WOULD like to tune in each week to see Harlan and his animitronic foil.


Any state of relaxation eases internal body function. The more stress is alleviated the more chances are added to a longer life span. That’s what meditation is for (which many good Atheists do). And meditation comes in MANY forms – Zen, transcendental, prayer, it doesn’t matter. Belief – whatever it is you prefer to indulge – CAN play a role, but it doesn't HAVE to. There are many ways to achieve the same end. The key is in whatever it takes to focus your mind and relax you into controlled breathing. But supernatural faiths don’t HAVE to factor in at ALL. The key is focusing the mind; that’s what draws you away from life’s stresses tearing subtly at your physical state over the years. Whatever the catalyst, when you enter a state of meditation – of internal relaxation or tranquility – tangible physiological effects take place in the cerebral cortex: increased EEG, blood flow to the brain, muscle relaxation, and a decrease in stress hormones. TM seems to increase efficiency of information transfer in the brain and lower heart and respiration rates, and INCREASE reflex responses. This contributes to health, endurance, and well-being.

Whether it’s in the discipline of the Chi, or breathing exercises, or even just an escapist daydream (as an artist, that one tends to be MY route out of the world), or prayer it regulates your metabolic state and therefore effects your term on Eoith.

So, belay the sermon and faulty reasoning. Because all emotions are physical activity, and whatever allows you to eliminate the physical pressures your emotional state can inflict (possibly the biggest contributor to a shorter life) will work. It's an issue of whatever works for YOU: but in itself it neither confirms (however illusory) nor disproves the existence of supernatural beings. (It is in human nature to often fall back on a conveniently fallacious argument, overlooking the obvious, to reassure oneself of one’s blind faith.)

Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
- Monday, November 3 2003 14:42:0


Is Rim of the World the school built into a mountainside that is used in the film "10 Things I Hate About You?" Cool looking school, that.

As for "To Kill A Mockingbird," I can see your curious discomfort, but I seriously think there's no other way for the story to happen. It's not like 1930's Alabama had a surfeit of small-town black lawyers...and the point is common human decency, anyway - not which so-called-race "saves" which.

And if you want to see some interesting perspectives, I do reccomend the recent special edition on DVD. Interesting commentaries and a documentary that looks back at the context and making of the film.


Frank Church
- Monday, November 3 2003 13:21:36

I could see an anthology series on HBO, but that's about it. With HBO you get a lot more freedom. And with Harlan's saturating use of the "F" word, that is the best avenue.

So let's all lobby HBO.


What does everyone think of the continuing science that says that prayer, or belief in God extends ones life? Newsweek has a new cover story on this, and I saw the same study on CNN. Could our Brian Siano atheist hit squad be getting cold feet?

See Brian, you wanna live longer, crack open a bible and rub your beads. Join us in the light. Lol.


I was watching Fox News, and noticed that Geraldo was reporting on the California fire right smack in front of my High School, Rim Of The World. The damn fire missed the school by a few yards. See, Frank Church has the power of the third eye.

When they catch that arsonist, even liberals will want to string him up.


I saw To Kill A Mockingbird on TCM and I have to say, it bothered me. Sure, it is a great film, but the plot about a white hero trying to save a black man from the fire just bothered me. Call me PC, burn me at the stake; the film bugged me.

Now back to comic book talk.


"ALL MY Iraqi contacts in the country bear out what is being reported in the European press. The country is a complete mess. The situation is much worse than it was under Saddam. There is no reconstruction. There is mass unemployment. The U.S. doesn’t trust Iraqis to even act as cleaners, and so South Asian and Filipino migrants are being used.

This is colonialism in the epoch of neo-liberal capitalism, and so U.S. and "friendly" companies are given precedence. Under the occupation, Iraq will become a crony oligarchy. "

--Tariq Ali

- Monday, November 3 2003 13:4:24

"...he could have some cute animitronic critter to talk to (as a metaphoric stand-in for your typical human being) and subject it to caustic scathes in an effort to bring the insipid creature to its rational senses ("Here. Sit-down, shut-up, and watch this…and you’ll see what I mean", Harlan could advise it after the brief tete-a-tete, to lead in that evening’s episode."

There was a wonderful show back in the 1980's called JIM HENSON'S "THE STORYTELLER'. The series was hosted by John Hurt (under copious amounts of prosthetic makeup), who always had an animatronic talking dog by his side (courtesy of Henson). The dog would essentially be there to fill in any plot holes left over from the story. ("Why did this happen? Why didn't she do this instead of that? What happened to the guy with all the mushrooms?" Etc. etc. etc.)

Harlan exchanging barbs with an animatronic talking animal (a dog? a parrot? a panda?) is a sight that MUST one day be seen, or all of Creation will finally be proven to be an existential wasteland, where the eternal waking nightmare called life will be matched in it's all-encompassing despair only by the latest summer blockbuster, TOMB RAIDER 3: LARA GETS NAUGHTY.

- Monday, November 3 2003 12:59:56

Dear Lee:

Many, many thanks for the Piaf (Eternelle) CD which arrived today. THANK YOU! Please be sure to print your return address when you send APPROACHING OBLIVION, that way we can return it safely. Again, much appreciated.


- Monday, November 3 2003 11:30:18

Many thanks
Hey, Blinky? Thanks, man.


Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Monday, November 3 2003 9:35:4

Raising Hell For Harlan

"Right now, there are three separate and independant production entities, each trying to sell one or another version of HARLAN ELLISON'S DREAM CORRIDOR, with me as host. Even one version with me NOT as host."
excerpted from HARLAN ELLISON post
- Saturday, November 1 2003 12:8:34

There are only two things keeping me from rushing off to raise a little hell for Harlan:

1) There are already three teams of professionals working on it.
2) Harlan hasn't asked for any help.

It would be great if there was some way that fan input could help out the production entities on the front line, but unsolicited input could do as much harm as good.

Mark Walsh
- Monday, November 3 2003 8:54:47

Well done, Cindy. As we say in Boston, your film was wicked aahtistic.


Joseph J. Finn <josephfinn@mac.com>
- Monday, November 3 2003 8:40:33

Congrats, Cindy! I kind of wish they had offered it in a decent video format (*cough* Quicktime *cough*), but it looks great!


TEXAS - Monday, November 3 2003 6:34:35


IT was a lever action rifle.


TEXAS - Monday, November 3 2003 6:33:27

You're absolutely correct. I was a lever action rifle. I DID get it with a pistol as well, (the one on the gunslinger's hip in the scene) and in amazingly rapid succession. When it came to editing though I MUCH prefered the effect of the impact on the rocks using the rifle over that of the pistol. I figured in slow motion most people wouldn't know the difference between a close chamber clicking over and the sound of a lever action cocked. I musta been wrong on that eh? My other obstacle was time. I tend to stretch my productions out to the final hour. Once again I should have started sooner. I might have been able to work out more of the bugs. I edit like I write-- over and over and over. As it was the Mason Post Master was kind enough to stick around for 45 minutes after normal closing time so I could get the postmark on that day-- which was the LAST day the contest was open.

I had some hellacious good footage that I left out for the sake of brevity. The shortness of the film was of paramount importance; the rules were pretty stringent and I didn't aim to bore the hell out of folks. Sticking with the rules and working with what was allowed I was extremely limited, but the challenge was half the fun.

Thanks for taking a look.
yer a peach.

I thank you Bill!

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Monday, November 3 2003 6:4:24

For some reason, I keep thinking of this pair of episodes of the old TV series _Maude_. The plot was that Maude developed manic-depression-- and in her manic swing, she'd started this campaign to have Henry Fonda run for President. Henry Fonda turned up at the end to say, politely and courteously, that if nominated he would not run, and if elected, he would not serve. Then Maude collapsed into Walter's arms.

Yes, it's to think of Harlan hosting an anthology TV series. But I'd be more excited of _he'd_ mentioned the idea, and was working to get it accomplished.

- Monday, November 3 2003 5:24:45

That was pretty good, Cindy. (Minor quibble: The sound effect wasn't a revolver, but I'm assuming you're gonna cop "creative license" and if so, well, then I'll agree since it's kinda hard to do what you did with a revolver.)

As far as anthology series, A-TC is correct (and he's correct 'cause I agree with him, of course), no anthology series has done particularly well with Ma and Pa USA and I think it's for precisely the reasons Adam cited. As has been mentioned, cable would be your next best bet. Even that would be a difficult sell (see reasons cited by Adam). I think Rob's hit the nail on the head regarding hosting something like Dream Corridor. It more than likely would have to be HE and, quite frankly, I would think the ONLY way that could be done would be if you let HE speak without a script; meaning he could meander along for 2-3 minutes about ANYTHING and then somehow someway segue into the adaptation (kinda like Hitchcock did as Rob pointed out).

Dorie mentioned King and that does have possibilities (I would think), but considering King hasn't gotten a show on the air, I would assume most producers are not touching an anthology series with their diseased ten-foot dick. (I'm also assuming that King has probably talked about an anthology series with various networks as its obvious from Danse Macabre and some of his other writings how much love he has for the anthology series.)

Something to think about though, and it would take a producer who really loves the short form and is willing to take a shot at it to get it through the "safe" shows of sitcom and reality tv.

Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Monday, November 3 2003 3:58:9

Congrats, Cindy!


TEXAS - Sunday, November 2 2003 19:12:18

Y'all remember when I took a (slight) ricochet bullet filming a short for Stephen King's Gunslinger competition? Well, seems it was not in vain. Go to;


Click on "Meet The American Gunslingers"

Soooo I'm in. If they have a vote, I'll be countin' on all of y'all.


Roger Gjovig <rlgjovig@aol.com>
Des Moines, Iowa - Sunday, November 2 2003 16:40:50

I'm down to the last issue to find on my list of Ellison comics I've been searching for over the years. Any suggestions on how to find Creepy 32 from 1970. I believe it had the Rock God story in it.I'm afraid my options here in the midwest are pretty slim as far as the stores I know of.Any help appreciated. Thanks,Roger

Keith Cramer (aka John Q Public) <remarck@hotmail.com>
Arlington, VA - Sunday, November 2 2003 14:52:23

Rabbit Hole 33
SUSAN ELLISON wrote the following:
HERC MEMBERS: JUST TO ADVISE...RH #33 was mailed on Monday. Don't wait too long to order your tickets for this all-star staged reading. Hope you enjoy this RH and the free book offer. All best--Susan"

I just discovered this site and I was wondering what she was talking about. Can't find "Rabbit Hole" on the web and have not seen any other references to "this all-star staged reading," but I'm very curious about it and would like to know more. Been an Ellison afficianado since the early 80's, saw him speak at SciCon 7, and would like to see him again.

PS - I am subscribing to the "Rabbit Hole" tonight.

- Sunday, November 2 2003 14:3:54

The Final Solution
Whenever I tell myself - firmly, courageously - that I’ve had enough for now – like I really have such self-discipline – I come back for more.

Well…a few brief responses:

If "letter campaign" chatter really gained ground here – we should enlist Darrell Issa; that’s how low I’m willing to go – the undertaking would be best served using information from our host about which producers SPECIFICALLY he’d have done business with. I suppose you could run around town like a maniac playing door-to-door with the studios. But a clear target would probably hold the most promise. Who here has experience with sf conventions? Isn’t that where this usually starts?

As to the popularity of the anthology series: one reason it isn’t hot right now is because many have sucked so badly. While I can appreciate how you responded to a show in youth, AMAZING STORIES was a fucking lousy show.

I believe the only real successes in years (to argue ADAM-TROY’S statement) were the TZ series on which Harlan worked, Tales From the Crypt (some of which I liked), Monsters (which was pretty mediocre, but stood the ratings), even Mystery Science Theater could be considered, Tales from the Darkside, and Ray Bradbury’s (the one which inspired my musings here the other day). ALL of these had a pretty solid run. So, my feeling is the reason anthologies, lately, haven’t worked is because of the approach. Harlan’s show could only work if Harlan ran it; to give it a uniqueness (I mean right down to a memorable score). There IS no one else with the "frontal lobes" to make it GO. It would be, I think, important to make it stand out from all the rest in substance and style. (One reason CRYPT did well is because it had a unique opener and closer with a smart-assed corpse in the basement as host)

The (original) STAR TREK analogy wasn’t the greatest either, since that was during the era of the anthology – when it was NEVER more popular. Well, maybe I should retrace my history more carefully: the series started – when? – 1966; this, I think, WAS the point at which the flood of anthologies was diminishing. So, you MAY have me there. Nevertheless, from the mid-fifties to 1965 the anthology REIGNED. There was one or more for every fucking genre you could come up with.

I guess what I’m trying to argue is if it’s on cable, if it’s done right, and the marketing campaign is right (to trigger word-of-mouth) I think it could work. Bradbury pulled it off and even then we hadn’t seen an anthology in a decade. That's the reason his example crossed my mind.

Making Harlan’s show "different" I think would be crucial. There is a stiff generic quality to nearly ALL shows on tv today – cable and network alike. I loathe most of the "original" series on SciFi channel; they try so hard to imitate the successful formula set by X-Files, the Trek franchise (whether you like those or not), and Babylon 5.

The "host" gives the show a personality - an identity - with which viewers can empathize and be lured by in appeal. One solution for Harlan’s show is to use gimmicks: in Hitchcock fashion, Harlan could use props (big spoons, stuffed toys, punch bag clowns, etc) in each opening to introduce the theme of "tonight’s play", making light of some trait in human nature or a self-deterministic universe in an eloquently biting monologue; he could film (I hate video, even high resolution, so that's OUT) the intros and closers from Ellison Wonderland; he could have some cute animitronic critter to talk to (as a metaphoric stand-in for your typical human being) and subject it to caustic scathes in an effort to bring the insipid creature to its rational senses ("Here. Sit-down, shut-up, and watch this…and you’ll see what I mean", Harlan could advise it after the brief tete-a-tete, to lead in that evening’s episode. Hopefully, when we return to conclude the evening th' critter has learned somethin’. ) Now THAT’S vision!!! (Am I gonna be loved fer this one or WHAT?)

Steve Dooner <sdooner@quincycollege.edu>
South Weymouth, MA - Sunday, November 2 2003 10:24:2

From the "Let's Rent a Barn and Put on a Show!" Department

Well, can we seriously start a letter writing campaign? Who do we target for the campaign? Dreamworks? Paramount? Showtime? How many family members do we enlist to write letters? Perhaps after these initial details are decided, we could report back here to let each other know that our letters are in the mail. Maybe if a studio gets a hundred letters they'll start thinking there's some real interest out there. Maybe we could even muster a thousand letters. Also, should we talk about this here or at "The Other Place"? C'mon gang, let's turn our words into action and make Dream Corridor a reality.

Steve "Andy Hardy" Dooner

(Hey, I live in Massachusetts, so those of you who are savvy about this, please help out).

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Sunday, November 2 2003 9:22:30

the trouble with television
I think the biggest problem is that the networks would rather do the reality television because it's cheaper to produce. I was really hoping the trend would die out but I'm afraid it's probably here to stay, and that's bad news for the rest of us who would like to see television shows with scripts and actors.
Aside from some of the animated shows on Fox, I haven't watched a network television series in years. So I agree, cable is the only hope.

I just couldn't get into Carnivale, however...I watched the first two or three episodes and while I enjoyed the show's atmosphere, storywise the show just didn't draw me in the way Oz or The Sopranos did. It's not alone, though...I never could get into Six Feet Under either.

P.A. Berman
- Sunday, November 2 2003 8:18:12

I have to second A-T C's recommendation of CARNIVALE on HBO. Fans of the weird will enjoy it. I do feel some slight trepidation about touting it too strongly, since my enduring opinion of it will no doubt hinge on its ending. Many a great show (X-Files, for instance) lost its power in the end and proved a great disappointment, but so far I've enjoyed the ride CARNIVALE has provided. If you have HBO, the entire series is being rebroadcast today starting at 2pm EST. I'm going to tape it in case I've missed something.

As for serial TV shows, I was a big fan of Amazing Stories and The New Twilight Zone as a kid, and I think there'd be a market for a good one now too. Maybe cable would be the place for a show like that; seems like cable shows have shorter seasons and thus get a better chance for a full season run than shows on network. If someone wants to start a letter-writing campaign for an Ellison show, I'd write one.


adam-troy castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Sunday, November 2 2003 5:13:28

Anthology series
Although an Ellison anthology series, done by somebody with frontal lobes, would indeed be wonderful, I believe that one of the barriers between that dream and reality is the lack of success anthology shows have experienced for decades now. There have been no hits, many that limped along, and even more that just collapsed without ever finding an audience. I remember one TV season where several were attempted -- including a truly bizarre "Comedy Theatre," which got quite nutsy indeed -- and all failed.

It has become accepted wisdom (limiting accepted wisdom, but accepted wisdom based on demonstrable experience) that folks (these days at least) don't tune into a TV show unless they know exactly what they're going to receive with each installment.

In short, they want to see the latest dispatch from the lives of characters they think they know.

This is disappointing, and to some extent frightening (as I've dipped into some recent hitcoms, and find the folks there people I'd actively want to avoid), but there you go. Folks didn't watch STAR TREK to find out what Harlan and Theodore Sturgeon wrote about, they didn't even want to see cool sf concepts, they wanted to see what Kirk and Spock and the irascible old doctor dude were up to this week.

There are some exceptions, I think, on those shows which are more idea than character (I really do think the main appeal of LAW & ORDER is not its ensemble cast, but the unraveling of its twisty mysteries; same, to some extent, with CSI), but the principle is sound. You can even see it increasingly prevalant at the movies. Sequels, in A-list movies, used to be rare; now they're almost considered essential. Why? Not because there was more to do with SPEED, or because it makes sense for John McClain to find himself trapped at the scene of yet another terrorist attack in the next DIE HARD, but because audiences think they want to know what's up with those folks next.

You don't GET that addictive, compulsive quality with anthology series. I mean, when they're good enough, *I* do. I got it with the Straczynksi TWILIGHT ZONE. I'm sure a lot of other folks did. But MOST PEOPLE...and TV shows operate on a principle of looking for MOST PEOPLE...want continuing characters.

Irritating to those of us who like standalone stories, but true.

(Will toss along a rec for the HBO series Carnivale, which seems to me to *be* a single, coherent, stand-alone story -- albeit an epically long one. Maybe the best fantasy series TV has produced in years.) A-TC.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Sunday, November 2 2003 2:34:39

The Louvre: Drugs and Alcohol Not Required

I went to the Louvre for the first time this weekend. My thesis going in was that putting so much of our best work in one place is not the best idea; it limits access, and probably detracts from each artifact’s charm by forcing each to compete against so many others for attention and appreciation. I imagined a little delicate cameo brooch lost among the gold in a pirate’s chest.

The brooch in a pirate’s chest turned out to be a poor choice of metaphor. Interesting how fatuousness can be lanced and cleansed simply by putting down the remote, getting up off one’s ass and actually going to take a look.

It turns out that the Louvre is brilliantly managed, producing an effect more like the stars in the sky than a brooch in a box: it keeps art treasures close enough together to express interrelating patterns, far enough apart to give each some individual space, and producing as a whole an over-arching man-made beauty that is more profound than the sum of its parts.

Maybe I’m just an uncultured hick saying stuff that no one with a good education really needs to hear; but for me, the time spent wandering the corridors of the Louvre was as unexpectedly glorious as diving naked in the rain.

Tracy Garnett
Ludlow, Kentucky, - Saturday, November 1 2003 22:54:29

Hello, everyone.

I agree totally--I would love to see them produce a Harlan Ellison anthology series. If you think about it, there has never been a better time for such a program. Television has been battened upon, deservedly so, for a good many years. I won't go so far as to say the rancor, and ridicule has made them educt, and heroic...but they're taking more willing to take chances now than they did two decades ago, in the Dark Age of constipated sitcoms. Enough of these arrogant, quacking, self-reverential "Star Trek" clones. The hour is at hand for something insightful, and mature.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Saturday, November 1 2003 21:51:1

Just one question: How is one to get a decent heart test when one doesn't have health insurance?

- Saturday, November 1 2003 19:12:24

Joel said: "Please, everybody, get checked on regularly, no matter how old you are."

Let me second that. I started paying attention a while back, but I should have done that ten years ago. In May, I had a heart attack. If you have any doubts, have a treadmill test done. Have your blood checked. My triglycerides were about 1300. Now, they're closer to normal.

Stop the silent killer before he gets you.


Dorie Jennings
- Saturday, November 1 2003 18:30:26

Sad state of television
An Ellison anthology series would be the most brilliant thing to come along in years....which is certainly why the TV powers-that-be are not having any of it. Notice what shows are getting high ratings these days? Scantily clad bubbleheads competing for money or the attention of an equally bubbleheaded human prize. The rare opportunity to watch other people gag and puke while attempting to eat many-legged not-entirely-dead slimy things.Is it any wonder?

Stephen King loves Harlan, and the TV people love King (they do, don't they?). Think maybe he could push it forward?

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Saturday, November 1 2003 17:55:37

Back from a late honeymoon in Pacific Grove...picked up SLIPPAGE during a trip to Berkeley. Somehow, I'd missed that one [probably because I've been more interested in non-fiction over the last few years], but I have it now. Jeezus, Harlan's intro about his heart surgery scared the hell out of me. I'm 31 years old...right before I left my job my wife insisted that I have a checkup before the health insurance went away. Turned out my triglycerides are sky-high, above 600. Anyway, I'm taking medication for it [and thanfully said medication is fairly inexpensive] and have changed my diet quite a bit, but I'm still anxious about it. But Harlan's essay definitely got rid of any desire I might have to go back to my old fatty-acid ignorant ways.

What really scares me is that I wouldn't have even bothered to get that checkup had my wife not insisted on it. Please, everybody, get checked on regularly, no matter how old you are. I really thought I had years before I had to even think about such things...boy was I ever wrong.

Jim Hess
- Saturday, November 1 2003 16:40:33

Once more draggin' the convo back to Harlan Ellison and a question for him:

What do you think of Jerry Pournelle as a writer? I am not trying to start a fight or anything like that. I was rearranging some books in my office today, and came across several volumes by him, that's all.

Until next time. . .

Jim Hess

- Saturday, November 1 2003 14:35:27


It just occured to me that I never thanked you for giving my brother the address for that resource for typewriter ink ribbons.

So...Thank You.

(And missing the days when you hosted that wondrous PRISONER tv marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel.)

- Saturday, November 1 2003 12:38:19


What if enough among us pushed a letter campaign on those who considered producing Harlan's series to enlighten them that there's an audience ready buy? Worked for Roddenberry. Would that be a feasible plight?

- Saturday, November 1 2003 12:32:23

Harlan (and Bill),

"No one is biting."

Which, needless to say, utterly sucks. And 'HARLAN ELLISON'S DREAM CORRIDER'...what a gorgeous title that would be for a show, man. I wonder how your friend Ray got his deal launched so successfully in the 80's (he, himself, having long ridden the rapids of unsuccessful adaptations).

I know, natch, I'm "THOROUGHLY" alone in this sentiment, but I'm very frustrated every time a deal of yours falls through. We savor your printed work; yet, so much of it is SO visually translatable...how kin a Joe NOT feel deprived? If someone would just do the MATH right....! Ah! Time to work on the breathing exercises!


Thanks for bringing up Harlan's reading; I made note of it; I'll be huntin' it down.

- Saturday, November 1 2003 12:8:34


By now someone will surely have hipped you to my attempts to get a tv anthology series based on my stories (or the DANGEROUS VISIONS stories) on air. No luck. Many many attempts, many many nibbles at the line, and often close, but no success. Even with the storyboard equivalent of a pilot episode in the form of three years' worth of DREAM CORRIDOR comics and graphic collections, which ought to be enough for even the densest production executive. Nothing. Right now, there are three separate and independant production entities, each trying to sell one or another version of HARLAN ELLISON'S DREAM CORRIDOR, with me as host. Even one version with me NOT as host. No one is biting. But it's a random universe--as I just wrote in my chaos theory piece--and who knows what the irrational future holds?

yr. pal, Harlan

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Saturday, November 1 2003 6:30:18

John Ashcroft's costume

CHUCK: Oh, you just missed it! Ashcroft should have dressed as J. Edgar Hoover in a bare-breasted Statue of Justice drag outfit.

But Torquemada was close.


BILL GAUTHIER: With some hesitation, I mention this. My friend Mark Walsh and I listened to Harlan's reading of "The Function of Dreamsleep" last night. It is a story of profound personal honesty. I could not speak after the reading--I could not open my mouth. And other than it being one of the finest stories I have ever encountered, that is all I will say about it.

Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
Lakewood, Colo. - Friday, October 31 2003 19:39:58

Frank, Frank, Frank.

You forgot John Ashcroft.

Now, who could he dress up as?

I know! Torquemada!

Then again, perhaps a bit too obvious.

Ah, well. To a world of gods and monsters, then!


Jon Stover
Canada - Friday, October 31 2003 15:30:25

Back from the Hinterlands, and not with a Who's Who
Happy belated birthdays to both Lynn and Scott.

Belated condolences also about Harry Stubbs. I also found out earlier this week that "Amanda Cross" (Carolyn G. Heilbrun) died earlier this month; I enjoyed the Kate Fansler mysteries that I read back when I was plowing through mysteries at the rate of one a day.

A brief interview snippet with Harlan seems to run with every promo of the The Outer Limits on the Space Channel in Canada, and those promos seem to have run at the end of every other show on Space for the past few months. I'm not complaining, but I wish they'd rotate the clips a bit more. Or rotate the clip once. Anyone else in Canada want to email petition Space to pay Harlan for regular commentary? I was thinking of doing that tomorrow. I'm also thinking of sending a suggestion to the Canada Walk of Fame about getting A.E. Van Vogt a star, because God knows he deserves one as much as Mike Myers. Well, I'll keep you posted.

Cheers, and Happy Day Before All Saints Day,


Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Friday, October 31 2003 14:44:50


If memory serves, I seem to remember Harlan telling a story (I believe it was on Tom Snyder's CNBC show but it could've been his CBS one) of how he met with people at Showtime to put together a series but they didn't get it or something, and that's how DREAM CORRIDOR the comic came about.

Anyone, please jump in if I've got my memories crossed. I'd still like to see it, though.


- Friday, October 31 2003 14:21:48

Remember the acclaimed cable series RAY BRADBURY THEATER? (I actually should get some of those off Yahoo)

Well...it's not like anyone here could come up with something Harlan has never thought of, yet wouldn't it be nifty if not possible if HARLAN could launch and produce his own 1-hour or 90 minute cable series, something like DANGEROUS VISIONS OF HARLAN ELLISON or THE WORLDS OF HARLAN ELLISON - to see his own work, encompassing fanasty, drama, and sf, under his own auspices, aired with style, intelligence, and haunting prose and images. (You could even have special Hallowe'en episodes) Most of it, if not all, would have a BITE; some of it would be disturbing; some it funny as hell. With Harlan, of course, hosting each segment (a little like Disney with a tazer). HBO would be a fairly sound haven for the venture.

I can just SEE the images. Shit! Harlan, it would be incredible. Cutting edge theater.

Frank Church
- Friday, October 31 2003 12:3:10

That Orson Welles, what a genius. Kiss his throne, but don't leave a trace of sputz.


My idea of good Halloween costumes for our Washington hobgoblins:

Bush as Festus, from Gunsmoke.

Cheney as Count Vlad.

Rumsfeld as Ed Gein.

Condoleeza Rice as Storm, from X-Men.

Colin Powell as Step'n Fetchit.

They can all hold hands around the great pumpkin and gently blow me.


Neat Halloween lyrics:

"I'm Jonathan Harker, I'm Lucy's trance
Elegant count's hypnotic glance
I'm the wooden mallet, the sharpened stake
I'm the precautions you forgot to take
I'm the mummy's curse, the passing bell
I'm the fortune they wouldn't tell
I'm pyromania, Transylvania
I'm out of breath, I'm worse than death
I'm the late night air, exhilarating
I'm with you in the darkness, waiting"


- Friday, October 31 2003 9:51:37

Thank you, each and all of you, for the thoughts on Chaos Theory. Though New Line Films, that hired me to write this snippet, only wanted 500 words, I offered them my story, "Stuffing" (which can be found in ANGRY CANDY), as it--and the two stories Bob morales noted--are perfect manifestations of Chaos Theory. The gent who engaged me thought about it, after I read it to him, and decided no, all they wanted was 500 words. A complete story with human characters, illustrating rather than explaining the concept, "didn't fit the format" his limited, unchaotic vision permitted. Here is a living example of embodied Chaos (me) running headlong into Entropy (him). Oh well...

So I'm writing those 500 words as soon as I sign off here.

Nonetheless, I thank you thank you for your inputtage.

I don't even want to talk about Harry Stubbs dying. Yes, he was a dear friend. I'll lapse into silences today. Time grows short.

Sadly, Harlan

Mike Jacka
Phoenix, AZ - Friday, October 31 2003 7:44:51

Chaos Theory (too late to be helpful)
In the spirit of chaos (if not the theory), I'm probably coming in too late for this to be helpful, but the following is a quote that floored me.

"We're in the middle of a phase transition:
a butterfly flapping its wings at
just the right moment could
cause a storm to happen.
-- I'm trying to understand --
I'm at a moment in my life --
I don't know where to flap my wings."

This comes from Po Bronson's "The Nudist on the Late Shift", and I don't know who was being quoted. (The book is at home - I'm at work.)

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Thursday, October 30 2003 21:59:41

Sun Spot Activity! Gaseous Explosions on Mars!
BRIAN SIANO: I'm not so sure you're right. Not only did I hear about all that sun spot activity the other day, but I'm pretty sure I heard a story about gaseous explosions on Mars on the new tonight. Is anybody on this board from Grover's Mills, New Jersey?

Blinky the Clown <aaaah, shaddap>
- Thursday, October 30 2003 20:51:1


Happy freakin' birthday to you,
Happy freakin' birthday.....ah, screw it, you get the idea.


....an' many mooooooore...

- Thursday, October 30 2003 19:51:7

Happy 35th! You have just attained the same status as a fine wine. Don't get drunk.

And Brian,
Marvin the Martian says he's very angry, indeed. He won't say why. Peculiar little bugger.


"...intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us." H. G. Wells

- Thursday, October 30 2003 19:43:32

So! Who's going out as what this year? I was intending to go out as Harlan's Harlequin from RH!STTTM, but since my grasp of costume design and makeup is as inspired as a clogged toilet, I'm going to have to make do as Jason this year.

Yeah, I'm Jason Voorhees. Wanna make something of it, you drug-abusing fornicating teenagers?

Dave Clarke <clarked@open.org >
Jefferson, OR - Thursday, October 30 2003 18:21:49

chaos theory
As defined by "The QPB Dictionary of Ideas,"..."Chaos theory or chaology [is a] branch of mathematics which attempts to describe 'chaotic' systems--that is, systems whose behaviour is difficult to predict because there are so many variables or unknown factors (such as a weather system). Chaos theory, which attempts to predict the probable behaviour of such systems, based on a rapid calculation of the impact of as wide a range of elements as possible, emerged in the 1970s with the development of sophisticated computers. First developed for use in meteorology, it has also been used in such fields as economics."

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Thursday, October 30 2003 16:3:11

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind all of you of tonight's historical importance. Sixty-five years ago tonight, the nation's radio audience heard the first stirrings of a war that would tear the world apart in a very short time.

While Hitler was taking Europe as his own, and Japan was extending the co-prosperity sphere across the Pacific rim, radio listeners learned of the strange bursts of gas seen by astronomer on the surface of the planet Mars. Within minutes, a remote radio crew was on the scene at Grover's Mills, New Jersey, where a massive cylindrical meteorite had landed in a farmer's field. There, in a terrifying scene of mass destruction, humankind first encountered invading forces from another world. Within twenty minutes, Martian war machines had reached New York City, raised their arms, and let loose wave after wave of poison gas that brought death to that city's millions. By 8:30 that night, the radio waves were silent but for a lone ham radio operator calling "2X2L, calling C4... Isn't there anybody there? Isn't there... anybody?"

Thankfully, the witness of Professor Pearson of the Observatory at Princeton followed, describing the ruins of Manhattan. There, wandering in the wreckage, Pearson came upon the still and silent Martian war machines... their drivers destroyed by the diseases which mankind had become immune to over the centuries.

All is Welles tonight, my friends.

"This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of The Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo! Starting now, we couldn't soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night. . . so we did the best next thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears, and utterly destroyed the C. B. S. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn't mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian. . .it's Hallowe'en."

- Thursday, October 30 2003 14:10:45

TYPO correction: "when others DID broke apart"; "others did BREAK apart", I'd say is prf'ble.

Frank Church
- Thursday, October 30 2003 12:45:8

Chaos is when a man walks forward, but his soul lags behind.


Happy birthday Lynn; and I'm gonna give you a big wet kiss on the chin just to make your day that much better.

Runs away.

- Thursday, October 30 2003 12:42:48

By now I think Harlan has more than enough to find what he's looking for about ENTROPY (which has been like an annoying ball-and-chain in MY life; WHY can't a great physicist - or meteorologist for that matter - come up with an equation that would make ALL life predictable, serene, and simple. THAT'S what I want: SIMPLICITY. Oh, shit! I think I just converted myself to a religious faith. Man, it was easier than I thought)...and I'd only be repeating the point several people here laid out CLEARLY (I very much liked Lee's paradigm)...

BUT here's my own input, anyway...

The pretty little passage Chris posted, "For want of a nail...", was the folklore used to encapsulate the principle of the Butterfly Effect. NOT something to avoid at ANY cost, the BE, as I recall, was the very origin of Chaos theory. Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist, found in a computer printout (in the early 60's) weather patterns that grew farther and farther apart until consistency disappeared from the pattern completely. What they would find in the math is that a chain of events has a point of crisis that could magnify small changes. In effect, in an unpredictable pattern ultimately emerges a tangibly deterministic system. Thus, the theory was born from the study of weather. It produced a whole new terrain in math - beginning with Lorenz's 12 equations - to FIND a deterministic system in an unsolvable unpredictable universe. It drew the task of seeking linear equations from unsolvable nonlinear systems.

This brings to my mind a tangent that fascinates ME. One on which I'M basing a story concept. In recent years scientists have been studying patterns of evolution and adaptability using computer program models. They created what began as simple domains, simple animated cube shapes on the monitor in something that looked like a linear environment. I don't remember the math they applied, but these were algorithms simulating the functioning of biological adaptation. PATTERN RECOGNITION problems. These cubes, then, would move around in their cyber-habitat of a RANDOM system. That means the cubes were self-determining; the researchers would just leave things to themselves then come back and see what might change on its own. When the program automatically changed the "environment" sequentially, the shapes would ADD "apendages" to themselves; smaller cubes would grow out of the sides and gradually, as the environment became more complex, the cubes would transform their shapes, where once they were wobblilng clumsily out of what looked like a simulated sea they'd gain dexterity and smoothness to move about. In short, non-linear equations were used to produce random patterns; but a consistent outcome would result with random changes (from simple to complex) in the environment.

Additionally, in the dynamics, objects that did NOT change when others DID broke apart. In OTHER cases they saw some more complex objects go after simpler objects within a new environment and destroy them. Thus, patterns of "extinction" were also clear. Survival of the fittest, which was NOT written in the program by the scientists.

It is one of the coolest things I've seen employed by a computer program. Nature itself - sensitive dependence on initial conditions (the basis of the Butterfly Effect) - was simulated on a monitor. This research in quantitative structure-activity relationship, which confirms everything in Darwinian law, is leading to serious notions about computer intelligence one day actually emerging as a competing species with human beings.

- Thursday, October 30 2003 11:58:40

Cindy & Mel~ Thanks so much for your best wishes. Yesterday was indeed my thirty-fifth birthday. Okay, so it was a little quake, but *still*. The universe is trying to shake something loose.

As for the loss of Hal Clement, that sucks even more than Winona Rider sharing my birthday. Damn. (And it does put the rest of my minor cosmic inconveniences in perspective.)


- Thursday, October 30 2003 10:51:23

Chaos Theory - 2 thoughts
1) We will never be able to clone exact duplicates of people - genetic duplicates, yes, but not exact spitting image, carbon-copy personality, belches-in-the-same-pitch dupes - because of the nature of chaos. In this small yet meaningful way, the randomness of chaos will do its part to keep us from destroying the natural order of things. Ergo, the Chaos Theory exists for your protection.

2) If, as Rich pointed out, "Chaos Theory is also about finding order amongst the so-called indecipherable scramblings of life", one might get a leg up on becoming a more supreme being if they could see, understand and in some way manipulate all of those miniscule and seemingly unconnected details at precisely the right moment - but it also would be absolute hell trying to surprise such a person on his or her birthday.

Steven Prete <Yalzton@aol.com>
LI, NY - Thursday, October 30 2003 9:46:25

Butterfly Effect
A note on the Butterfly Effect. My take on it is not that the butterfly causes a storm, but rather that when you are modeling a chaotic system, if you do not account for even a minor thing, such as a butterfly's beating wings, then further down the road there will be a vast discrepancy between your model and the real world. Over time the little inaccuracies build up and cause your predictions to be wrong, so weathermen cannot predict every storm because they cannot monitor every little atmospheric disturbance.
Butterfly's do not cause storms. The grand interactions of the planet, and universe, do cause them.
I think a lot of chaos theory is about figuring out how to model non-linear systems without knowing everything that is happening in that system.

Michael <leftearpro@hotmail.com>
- Thursday, October 30 2003 9:17:50

Brian said:

"Tonight, _South Park_ contained yet another wonderful moment: Eric Cartman screaming "Fuck Jesus!"at a crowd of Christians. Heartwrming, that."

Brian - a couple of years ago I got to play the most evil man on Earth for a little independant theater project... my favorite moment was when I got to yell "Suck a dick for Jesus!" at the top of my lungs. Out the theater door and into the street, even.

My apologies to anyone offended by that... but I had the time of my life doing it.

best to all,

P.S. Susan - I did indeed receive Rabbit Hole #33 - thank you!

Steve Jarrett <sjarrett@aol.com>
High Point, North Carolina - Thursday, October 30 2003 8:58:32


Just a quick thought in re the chaos theory piece. T.S. Eliot characterized the writing process as "a raid on the inarticulate." It strikes me that chaos theory can be characterized as a raid on the unquantifiable. You may not know much about chaos theory, but you certainly know a hell of a lot about writing. It seems to me that there is a connection there that you might possibly exploit.

For what it's worth,
Steve J.

Barney Dannelke <dannelke01@enter.net>
Allentown, PA. - Thursday, October 30 2003 6:21:38

Chaos Theory
re: God and dice.

Cindy - Einstein's statement that he found it difficult to believe that God would play dice with the universe was a reaction to quantum physics as it was understood in the 1930's and 40's as well as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle which says that you may or may not be reading this sentence if you own a dead cat. Yes, that was a joke. Thank you. I'm here all week.

Chaos theory, which at it's simplest puts forth some mathematical models that explain both variation and repetition in nature [things such as leaf structures or wave patterns for instance] is a much more modern theory. Einstein had been gone at least 15 years before this field of study even got going.

I remember one of the earliest articles I read about it concerned the patterns cream makes when poured into coffee. This appeared in an issue of Scientific American sometime in the mid-1970's and caused the father of a girl I was dating at the time to drop his subscription because he felt SA was no longer reporting on "real" science and that this was a stupid waste of print with no real-world applications. Not one of his most prescient moments.

Gleick's book, "CHAOS: Making a New Science" Publisher: Penguin USA (Paper); Reprint edition (December 1998)
ISBN: #0140092501 is still one of the best and most easily digested books on the subject.

- Barney Dannelke

Gary Wallen <gwalren at yahoo>
Ashland, - Thursday, October 30 2003 6:15:48

A brief followup to David of Essex and Cindy... from James Gleick's _Chaos_, already extolled here. I'll be happy to look up the exact quote and speaker if desired, I just don't have the book handy. To the effect of:

'God DOES play dice with the universe. But they're loaded dice.' [And chaos theory is about the rules behind the loading]

I love that image and built a shortshort story around it for 55 Fiction, a series of short stories only 55 words long. They semmed not to be as enchanted with it as I was. They did take one of my other submissions, though. The only pay being a contributor's copy of the anthology, and appearing between the covers with Larry Niven and Charles Schulz.

Mark Walsh
- Thursday, October 30 2003 5:2:40

Hal Clement
Although my reading of Hal Clement’s works is quite narrow, I grew up in West Quincy, which borders Milton, the upscale Boston suburb where Mr. Clement lived. And I worked in a small, neighborhood supermarket for well over twelve years as I put myself through high school, college and graduate school. Now, I have a memory where I never forget a face and can place a person immediately. When my pal Dooner and I attended Readercon last July and I saw Hal Clement, I said to Steve, “Holy smokes, he used to shop in Curtis Farms!” I had been waiting on a Grand Master for years and was utterly clueless about it and yet thrilled that I had finally woken up. Having met him briefly at Readercon (re: Steve’s last post), I was looking forward to seeing him again this winter at Arisia and Boskone; maybe talking to Mr. Clement about Milton Academy (where my dad would takes us to watch the Saturday football games when I was growing up) and other things we may have had in common. But that’s not going to happen and I feel the loss.

FRANK: I didn’t mention downloading music in my post. The students who were writing papers on the subject were looking at the relationship between the Internet, the user and the material downloaded from a number of scenarios all of which were trying to address questions relating to the access of information. But since you asked…didn’t the taping of an album require someone to purchase the album first? And as far as the bogus argument of downloading music – ask Roger McGuinn and other musicians whose income has been sharply effected by all the MP3 downloads how bogus the argument is.

And as far as the name-calling of atheists during orgasm, that’s between the individual atheist and the deity they don’t believe in.


Alex Jay Berman <alexjay@earthlink.net>
Philadelphia, - Thursday, October 30 2003 1:12:11

Hal Clement ... Among the Stars
I've only read short stories by Hal Clement; none of the novels yet (I know; I still have that enjoyment ahead of me).

But I DID meet him last December, at PhilCon. He'd broken his foot and somehow still kept up with a panel schedule that would have tired out men and women half his age, lugging around a huge cast.

At one point during the con, I spotted him resting in a lobby chair. I saw he was tired, and wanted to see if there was anything I could get for him. Dunno exactly what I said; something like, "Mr. Clement (I may have said "Mr. Stubbs," I forget), I hate to bother you, but I just wanted to thank you for the enjoyment your work has given me." I paused, hoping I wasn't overly encroaching, and added, "You look a little run down--is there anything I can get you? Water, or something to snack on?"

He looked surprised that someone would ask him something like that; too often, I guess, the attending writers are treated as just attractions. But his face broke into a smile as he shook my hand, and said, "No, thank you; but that's kind of you." He may have called me "young man," I honestly don't recall. I smiled back and said, "Well, it never hurts to ask. Thank you again, sir."

I'm very saddened by his loss, but I'm glad that I could at least give the man a smile when he was a little shagged out.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 21:38:48

Sad news about Hal Clement. I hope he went with the knowledge that posterity was his: _Mission of Gravity_ will be read and enjoyed by many generations to come.

On a note of Pure Bookloving Lust, there's an auction of Jorge Luis Borgs' papers on November 20th. Details at http://www.bloomsbury-book-auct.com/html/BBA475/
(Heard about this through Neil Gaiman's blog.)

Tonight, _South Park_ contained yet another wonderful moment: Eric Cartman screaming "Fuck Jesus!"at a crowd of Christians. Heartwrming, that.

Rick, a suggestion. On this page, where we enter the text of our messages, add a link that will open up the message board in another window. That way, we can recheck what's been posted.

Nothing more to add on the Chaos Theory front. Personally, I think I nailed it with the weather-prediction analogy, but I need this kind of ego-boost to sorta keep going, ya know.

TEXAS - Wednesday, October 29 2003 20:56:54

On the Theory of Chaos; Albert Einstein said, " God does not play dice".

Hope that helps.
your friend,


You're still justa pup.


adam-troy castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 20:55:50

Hal Clement
Dammit. He was a regular at several cons I attended. A gentle, sweet, intelligent man, who had never lost his enthusiasm.

Robert Morales
New York City, - Wednesday, October 29 2003 20:38:14

Re: Chaos Theory
Harlan, it's what you did in "The Beast That Shouted Love At the Heart of the World" and "The Man Who Rowed Christopher Colombus Ashore"; it's the hubris of pairing "chaos" and "theory" and forgetting that all linearity is a subset of nonlinearity; it's a breath mint and a candy.

Alejandro Riera
chicago, il - Wednesday, October 29 2003 20:35:27


My condolences on the passing of Hal Clement. If I am not mistaken he was one of your most dearest of friends. I still remember how a couple of years ago, you gave away your precious copy of one of Clement's book (forgive me, the title escapes me now) during the CBLDF auction at MadMedia in Wisconsin (yes, I also survived the unpleasantness of that godforsaken hotel in the middle of nowhere with the crappy airconditioning and the leaky seiling).

So again, my condolences. Man, 2003 is quite a shitty year with so many of the good ones gone…Celia, Compay Segundo, Tite Curet Alonso, Hal Clement…jeez.


- Wednesday, October 29 2003 20:31:5

To me, Chaos theory is not only about complexity, but also it's about layers. We human beings like straight lines. We would have a hard time putting together structures without them. We impose this geometry of ours on the world around us in order to control our environment, which allows us to keep a roof over our heads, for example.

Then take the smoothest, straightest edge we can possibly make, look at it under a microscope: you find something that looks like a mountain range. Nature sneaks her own geometry into our constructs on the microscopic level.

Then see it on the molecular level. Everything is now arranged in nice, neat, simple geometric shapes. Nature sneaks in another geometry underneath the microscopic one.

Then see it on the atomic and subatomic level. Now we're in a shadow world of potentiality, of light showing as waves in one experiment and as particular in another, depending on how you measure it. A place of the ghosts of things not yet....

We call it many things; Entropy, Chaos, Murphy's Law, God's Will.

But, is there really a name we can give to the shadow word, the place that exists in the guts of an atom, or at the center of a black hole?

Or am I just jerking off?


Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Wednesday, October 29 2003 19:39:58

I met Hal Clement last summer thanks to my friend Mark Walsh, who got me to go up to the Readercon North of Boston. They held an appreciation for Clement there, and he enjoyed sharing his views on hard science fiction and the plausibility in detail it requires. He seemed like quite a nice guy. When last I saw him, he was whistling Gilbert and Sullivan's "With Cat Like Tread" and walking around the corridors looking for an interesting discussion to atend.


I also have to ask: wouldn't Chaos Theory be more aptly named "history?" For instance, History is entirley aperiodic. Sure, large patterns repeat in history, but nothing ever really repeats exactly. Also, you can't model history because there are too many variables, unforseen stresses. It's never ever a simple, reducible mathematic equation. It's never one cause that equals one effect. And where exactly do new things come from in history? How did all the change enter the system?

Steve Dooner

Conribution from David Of Essex
(the pithiest perthon in my houthe), - Wednesday, October 29 2003 19:2:28

more chaos
Our resident scientist says: he finds the most interesting thing about chaos theory is the idea of "strange attractors" i.e. order or patterns emerging out of nothing, for no apparent reason. Which shows that chaos is not completely random. Might be a good starting point?

At least three people have written books entitled STRANGE ATTRACTORS......sounds like, you know, a man who is so adored that even the stray pages of newspapers blowing by have to wrap themselves round him and....hmmm guess that's been done already.

Chris M. Barkley <cmzhang56@yahoo.com>
Middletown, OH - Wednesday, October 29 2003 17:47:46

Sad News Today...Hal Clement

I just got this...I'm devastated...I saw him at Worldcon in Toronto having a great time...Hal was a good friend and a great author...leave it to him to go out on one of the strongest sun storms in human history...ad astra, my friend...


Saddest news out of Mass today. Our dear friend Hal Clement died
earlier today in his sleep. News blurb follows. I knew him for over 20 years and this has hit hard. I'll keep everyone updated as to funeral and memorial plans. We'll be taking up a collection to send flowers. Contact Christy with your
donation information.

Subj: Hal dies
Date: 03-10-29 20:03:19 EST
From: thesinfulpoet@hotmail.com (Sinful Poet)
To: writerofsf@aol.com

Hal Clement Dies

Harry Clement Stubbs, who wrote science fiction as Hal Clement, died in his sleep earlier today, October 29, 2003, at his home in Milton, Massachusetts.

Born in 1922, Clement was a high school school teacher whose fiction gained a reputation as quintessential hard SF -- science fiction firmly based on established physics, chemistry, and astronomy. His novels often depicted highly imagined alien worlds; the most famous was Mission of Gravity, set on
a heavy, fast-spinning planet where the force of gravity is several times greater at the poles than at the equator. His last novel, Noise, was published earlier this year.

Clement was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1999. Among other honors was a Retro-Hugo Award in 1996 for his 1945 story "Uncommon Sense".

Clement is survived by his wife Mary, Mary, two sons George and
Richard, daughter Christine Hensel, and grandson Jackson.

Melissa Reeston
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 17:37:39

Your birthday?

If it is, then the happiest of days for you. Maybe the deities who curse your existence right now might consider a surcease.

If it isn't your birthdate, you still should ask for one.

My best to you and Bill, Melissa (and Scott)

C'mon, hubby get that Lexmark 3-in-one going...

Jim Hess
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 17:13:40

Smoke gets in your. . .
HARLAN: Chaos Theory: A-hem: Basically, chaos theory covers the reverse of primarily linear structures and orders (there is also a secondary thesis with regards to Chaos Theory regarding non-linear structures and orders, but you did ask I keep it simple): Finding the order in what appears to be completely random data. Example: When you cannot find your car keys because you don't consciously remember where you put them you retrace your steps--going in reverse--proceeding in a linear structure and order until you find them.

The first true experimenter in chaos theory (and subsequent application) was a meteorologist, named Edward Lorenz. In 1960, he was working on the problem of weather prediction. He had a computer set up, with a set of twelve equations to model the weather. It didn't predict the weather itself. However this computer program did theoretically predict what the weather might be.

One day in 1961, he wanted to see a particular sequence again. To save time, he started in the middle of the sequence, instead of the beginning. He entered the number off his printout and left to let it run.

When he came back an hour later, the sequence had evolved differently. Instead of the same pattern as before, it diverged from the pattern, ending up very different from the original. Which leads into the matter of fractal geometry.

Now, about string theory. . . Oh, never mind just now.

'Scuse me, folks. Just now I have to go and make sure the back yard isn't on fire just yet. (Four out of control fires, less than an hour from my humble abode. Yowzah!)

If you should have any other questions on this Mr. Ellison, do drop me a line:


Until next time. . .

Jim Hess

- Wednesday, October 29 2003 15:58:38

Blatantly violating the double post rule.
(Because the first post was in response to a question from Harlan.)

Chaos is having massive wildfires, a huge solar flare and a freakin' earthquake on your birthday... Did I not get the memo or something?


St. Pete, FL - Wednesday, October 29 2003 14:21:0

Harlan, maybe the relationship of Entropy (from order to chaos) and the Chaos Theory (order out of chaos) could be treeated?

Frank Church
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 13:34:38

Chaos Theory at work every time I have to deal with you mooks.


Scotty, no Communist here. Communist's like big government, I want to dismantle parts of it.


Cindy, Adam ate the apple, but remember, the woman drove him to it. Lol.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 13:31:28

Wonky Chaos Addendum

Oh yeah, I forgot this other point:

Among the many useful interpretations of Chaos math, one is in seeing it as an engine driving art in nature. Using it, computers can suddenly ‘paint’ pictures that a very skilled human artist would work hard to match. But there is still a human space of want and need and hope and despair that it is critically important for humans to reveal and understand and explore. And that exploration by artists may function similarly to chaos, but cannot be touched by computers. In spite of the relentless advance of technology over the last hundred years, there is still no silicon transistor that can register the value of ‘pain’. There is still and always will be a space that is uniquely human, that only human artists treat.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 13:2:50

Wonky Chaos


You as an artist are the picture of a living chaos equation, and you can paint the picture without any stinkin’ computer.

A chaos equation is a surprisingly small equation that converges to a value or not for a fixed set of inputs. If it converges at those inputs, you can assign a color to the value. If it doesn’t converge you leave a blank spot. When you have moved all inputs across a range of values, you have a matrix of numbers with associated colors mixed with blank spots. The colors against the blank spots make the most amazing pictures! Mountains, planets, things we’ve never seen before. But you have to calculate your ass off to get there.

The reason it’s called chaos is that if you change the adjustable parameters associated with the inputs, the output can change wildly even with astonishingly tiny changes to the parameters.

But as an artist you do very much the same thing. Human emotions and needs are your inputs, the things that happen to you personally – tragedy and triumph - are constantly changing the way you see them. On some unviewable level, the potentialities of various combinations of human emotion and need sift and slide on your palette. Sometimes, a story converges. Sometimes you get only a blank space and move on. At the end of you life, the most amazing picture emerges, your body of work.

Hope that’s wonky enough. I’m going completely from memory here, as most of my books are in storage, so caveat lector!

Tucson, AZ - Wednesday, October 29 2003 12:23:6

The only thing I know about chaos comes from a very interesting book I read long ago called THE AGE OF SPIRITUAL MACHINES by Ray Kurzweil, published by Penguin Putnam and still readily available. To paraphrase a few of Kurzweil's main points, as briefly as possible:

He says that the time interval between IMPORTANT events expands andcontracts depending upon the amount of chaos there is. It takes more time for important events to occur when there is a lot of chaos rampaging about the place. So Kurzweil argues that as CHAOS increases--and thus the time interval between important events gets longer--time slows down. When ORDER increases--and the time interval between salient events decreases--then time seems to speed up. He defines the process of evolution as order increasing, whether the evolution is biological or technological.

If I recall correctly, his point was that evolution keeps building on its own increasing order, these days mostly in the form of human technology, and so we're entering into some kind of time speedy-uppy thingy.

Hope that helps.


DTS <none>
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 12:17:1

Chaos Theory or, How to Screw Up the U.S. Without Really Trying
An example of chaos theory:
TAKE one screwed up set of Florida voting instructions (plus a few hundred old voting machines), mix with outdated and useless electoral voting system, add two Bushs (no birds, unfortunately) and, voila! CHAOS!

Chris L
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 11:37:18

Unsurprisingly, the best book you can read on the topic of chaos theory is Chaos by James Gleick, perhaps the best non-fiction science writer in the post Carl Sagan world.

If you had to state chaos theory in one sentence, it would be:

"Small changes in input produce massive changes in output." In non-linear, chaotic systems, that is.

I think one of the most famous expressions of chaos theory, though not consciously intended so, is as follows:

For want of a nail
the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe
the horse was lost.
For want of a horse
the rider was lost.
For want of a rider
the battle was lost.
For want of a battle
the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want
of a horseshoe nail.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 11:37:1

To Sparky, aka Harlan Ellison, re chaos theory. From what I can tell, its core seems to be this.

When we analyze systems, we try to develop rules by which we can predict the future behavior of those systems-- say, trying to predict the weather for next week. However, in these systems, there are elements which introduce a bit of variability into the system, which make our rule-based predictions a little "off." As these elements accumulate over time, the systems become less predictable, and our predictions become more and more "off."

In other words, we can have a very good idea of what the weather will be like tomorrow, a pretty good idea of the weather three days from now, a rough guess for the weather a week from now, and absolutely no solid idea as to what the weather will be like a month from now, or on this day in 2004.

We may, over time, learn how these little details contribute to the whole-- and thus, increase our ability to predict things. But there will always be this element of "chaos."

Chaos theory is a collection of mathematical strategies to model such behaviors. If the models don't help us make better predictions, they can give us better insights into the systems we're trying to predict.

Rich is right to urge you to avoid, at all costs, the Butterly Effect description. It leads people into thinking that a butterfly causes hurricanes. It doesn't. It was meant to illustrate how tiny fluctuations _may_ have tremendous effects some time down the road; a more accurate "butterfly effect" is in Ray Bradbury's story "The Sound of Thunder."

As for short extrapolations thereof, I can't do that-- because this is one of those topics which practically _begs_ for length in wonky extrapolations. I once wrote a short story about an actuary at an insurance company who applied Chaos Theory to his work-- and he kept inserting utterly mad questions into the insurance company's questionnaires. For example, he'd read a medical article about health risks of insecticides, and he'd have the company ask applicants if they liked to shove vegetables up their asses so he could factor that risk into his actuarial tables. I liked what I'd written, and it had a great Pynchon quality to it, but it wasn't a story, per se.

Jason Michelitch <jm873@bard.edu>
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 11:21:48

Chaos Theory Ideas
Lynn's comments re: chaos theory are probably far more helpful than anything I can offer, not having ever been able to fully grasp the concept myself.

For me, chaos theory has always held a resonance both with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (the act of observation changes that which is being observed, and so you can know how fast an electron is moving but not where it is, or where it is but not how fast it is moving, or something approximate), and with ideas about fate...the fairly frightening concept that, if, say, each movement on earth affects (or even effects) each other movement, what is to stop us from concluding that we are merely a collection of reactions to an initial "big-bang" style kickoff...that we are no more than dominos, falling in an inperceivable order. Then there is the other angle of looking at it: that we can never fully understand why anything happens, because everything is influenced by everything (and this can be used on a metaphoric or metaphysical level, and has to some extent by Alan Moore in works like FROM HELL), and we can never fully perceive the effect that even the slightest event, such as a butterfly flapping its wings, has on a grand event, such as a hurricane.

I have no idea if that babbling is helpful, even in the slightest, but if it is, well, more power to you.

Bay Area, CA - Wednesday, October 29 2003 11:13:43

Chaos theory
Mr. Ellison

Chaos theory:

It can be put into terms anyone can understand by imagining a lone walking person who comes to a fork in the road, each of which leads to a fork in their respective roads, which leads to…

If the lone walker takes any of these forks, there are possibilities which will never come to pass. If we take the lone walker, and remember that we are all (humans, weather, animals, etc.) “lone walkers” and realize that each of our actions have consequences (we need to especially remember that there _will be_ unintended consequences), well then, you have the beginnings of chaos theory.

Next, mix in the things we just can’t control (Dr. McCoy jumping through the time machine thingy, forcing Spock and Kirk to follow him) and you’re getting closer.

P.S. Having the City on the Edge of Forever limited edition, I know that you didn’t write the scene exactly as shown. Just using it as an example. I’m putting this in so that the trekkers out there don’t jump down my throat.

Hope everyone (especially in SoCal) are well.

- Wednesday, October 29 2003 11:9:42

Harlan, re: Chaos Theory,

The only thing I will add to what everyone else has already said is: I beg you and plead with you, please please please DO NOT USE THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT ANALOGY. Everyone's used it so don't use it. Please.

Other than that, I've got no pithy lines to say except don't forget it's not just small changes lead to cataclysmic events, but Chaos Theory is also about finding order amongst the so-called indecipherable scramblings of life (or data or whatever else you want to use).

And definitely check out Gleick's book on the subject as Aron mentioned.

And Aron, look for Harlan's very own words on what he's working on. Should be the last couple of days or so I think.

- Wednesday, October 29 2003 11:3:28

Chaos Theory
Actually, this wonky little thought dove-tails neatly with Lynn's post... From my idea archive:


"Butterfly Storms"

A super-secret, ultra-violet level military program that wrangles butterflies in an undisclosed asian country - trying to set up a series of killer storms across enemy nations. Nice idea, works wonderfully - enemy nation(s) destroyed. But there's a problem. The problem being that said storms don't stop over those countries alone. The end result: Human civilization brought low by a rabble of caged butterflies in a Bangkok apartment.


I told you it was a wonky thought, but I hope it helps...

- Wednesday, October 29 2003 10:55:22


Fret not. You have options. There are those who tried condemning ME to a desolate island. But always I came BACK.

Last time I returned with a brochure. It is filled with a broad selection of these woebegone chunks of real estate. Here: I'm looking at one now. Seems to be the island of Juan Fernandez. Populated by goats and bejeweled with volcanic rock, it is where Alexander Selkirk, the real-life model for Robinson Crusoe, was marooned in the early 1700's. Oh, and here's a REALLY appealing one: it is that "little rock at the world's end", St. Helena - Napolean's old stomping ground, wafting ceaselessly in a pine-scented breeze.

The ocean holds many choices. So, fret not. Being an outcast isn't as bad as believed. Here. I'll LEND you the brochure. But I want it back. I never know when I'll need it.

Steve Dooner,


I too am a convert. I have SEEN the light. We must CRUSH the poor. DESTROY the little leeches. WIPE OUT every LAST sniveling, lowlife in the name of Old Glory. ELIMINATE the Reeking Peril. They are taking our money and menacing our way of life.
I can no longer tolerate them and I can't wait to embark on this great crusade.

(And then they wonder...why I'm "condescending" and "denigrating". Be damned if I let up on THAT)

Mark Walsh
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 10:52:15

Chaos Theory
HARLAN: It's been a while, but I think the fellow who discovered the Chaos Theory was a meterologist interested in figuring out a way to predict weather patterns. (His name was Lawrence, I think; or Lorenz.) And his theory discovered the patterns in seemingly random actions as well as the randomness in seemingly normal patterns. As far as I'm concerned, this explain why the weathermen here in New England always have their forecasts turned upside down.


Aron Devin
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 10:49:5

Non-chaotic Chaos reply
Hey Harlan,

I remember a great interview with Alan Moore from the Dec. 1990 issue of The Comic Journal where he talks about Chaos theory, fractal's, Lorenz's Butterfly effect, and how they influenced his work on Watchmen and Big Numbers. I've got the interview if you want a copy. Another fantastic source is James Gleick's book "Chaos: Making A New Science". It's got an entire chapter about the Butterfly effect as well as some awesome color plates of the Mandebrot Set. Hope this helps you some and let us know when your article is published. By the way, I think I read in Locus you were editing a book of Futrelle's Thinking Machine storys. Is this out yet?

- Wednesday, October 29 2003 10:43:35

Chaos Theory
Harlan, you've heard of the Butterfly Effect? This is a classic example of Chaos Theory. The flapping of a butterfly's wings in Beijing sets up tiny disturbances in the atmosphere that may form into a hurricane off the Bahamas. Fractals are another example of chaos theory.

From wikipedia.org (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory)

"The importance of chaos theory can be illustrated by the following observations:

(+) In popular terms, a linear system is exactly equal to the sum of its parts, whereas a non-linear system can be more than the sum of its parts. This mean that in order to study and understand the behaviour of a non-linear system one need in principle to study the system as a whole and not just its parts in isolation.

(+) It has been said that if the universe is an elephant, then linear theory can only be used to describe the last molecule in the tail of the elephant and chaos theory must be used to understand the rest. Or, in other words, almost all interesting real-world systems are described by non-linear systems."


Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 10:41:58

Cindy, if there’s anything else in Texas as big as your heart, then I guess it’s true what they say about Texas. And my regrets to the doubly unfortunate Brangus.

I’m off to Paris for a couple of days of Louvre haunting. If I see any Johnny Halliday guitar picks in fire engine red, I’ll try to remember to pick one up for Scott. A bientôt.

- Wednesday, October 29 2003 10:25:8


By Friday, your benificent and titular websubject, me, has to write a brief (but cleverly original) take on the subject of "chaos theory." A subject that, roughly, I know as much about as Jeff Goldblum AFTER the director calls "Cut!"

If ANY of you have a one or two line odd-thought of a wild hair extrapolative nature about the ramifications, future uses, wonky fantastic possibilities of Chaos Theory -- NOT any long-winded treatises or lecture precis -- keep it one/two/three sentences simple for dolts like me -- or anything else I can filter through my own weird perceptors, to write this thing with a fresh, odd slant, your kind attention to this murmur will be appreciated.

Yr. Pal, Dr. Zarkov (but you can call me Sparky)

Scott Reeston
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 6:40:3


Frank: You reminded me of the time I took a package of Grecian Formula 7 or somesuch number, placed it on the counter in the pharmacy and asked the young female clerk if the stuff worked for pubic hair. The look of horror and embarrassment on that poor kid's face...Hee Hee Hee.

Much thanks for the wish, mon ami communiste.

Jay: I had a great time, and thanks for the message.

ATC: I'd recommend www.taxpayer.net. Track the resurrection of big government and the slow creep of bureaucracy under the auspices of Baby Shrub. Maybe it'll start to put to rest that addled notion that only Democrats are tax and spend politicians. Republicans do too; some like widdle Shrub (Awww, ain't he cute? Would somebody wipe away the greenish bile spewing from both ends?) do it wonderfully. The only difference between the two is on what Dems and Reps choose to waste your money on.


Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Wednesday, October 29 2003 4:22:1

Open the Pod Bay Door, Harl
(Above: first, last, and only time; just irresistable impulse)

Al Franken is great, but for one really cogent political commentator, check out Kent Southard, on www.bushwatch.com. The same site has a guy named Ernest Patridge, who for one essay wrote a state of the union analysis, 2050; downright frightening, and all too believable. ATC.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Wednesday, October 29 2003 4:14:57

On the poor
Only a few quick thoughts today:

First: "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

Second: I am so glad we now know that the poor have all our money. We oughta go after these bums.

Third: "Pay no attention to that corporation behind the curtain! I am the great and powerful POOR!"

Steve Dooner

PS. Bill Gauthier is right! If you have not heard Harlan read "Jefty is Five," you have missed one helluva moving performance. I confess it! I was a misty-eyed, choked up whimpering mess by the time it was over. Also, it is a privilege to hear the heartfelt compassion in "Midnite in the Sunken Cathedral." I am listening to the audio collection slowly, savoring it, so I'll report more later.

- Tuesday, October 28 2003 23:12:42


HARLAN does not like being referred to as "harl."

Only one or two presumptuous fatheads in HARLAN's life have ever had the arrant foolishness and sophomoric false-camaraderie to corrupt a perfectly decent name, HARLAN, for some lamebrained sideswipe at unappreciated familiarity. Not cute. Not.

HARLAN has discouraged those dimwits severely. One of them moved to the Galapagos. You can visit the other -- during his brief periods of lucidity -- Mondays and Thursdays -- at the Southern California Hospital for the Terminally Offensive, in La Jolla. You see, HARLAN really and truly hates it when idiots get his name wrong.

It ain't Harlin, or Harlen, or Harlem, or "harl," it's just good ole plain unadorned HARLAN.

Because, y'see, HARLAN doesn't like it when some jackass calls him "harl." He honestly doesn't like it.

A lot.

Yr. pal ... well, YOU know--

TEXAS - Tuesday, October 28 2003 20:58:5

I hope your air clears soon.
Stay safe!!

Rob wrote; "Well, first of all we weren't talking about sales tax as you did a moment ago. We're talking about a fixed income tax."
Well ACTUALLY, YOU may have been talking about a fixed income tax but I don't even know what that is. Howsomeever, I believe that if you'll but scroooooooooooooll back a bit you'll see where I wrote " a straight 10% PURCHASE tax." You musta misread.
You also wrote;" People with medical hassles, emotional hassles, low aptitudes; people with no families, people trying to get through school; families AND individuals on their own struggling without jobs and, so on. All these factors can contribute to one's income and employment status." Yes, you are absolutely right. We should not tax certain items such as medicine, food and diapers and those with the problems you outline should be able to have a pass on most things. As I stated before though-- vouchers ( not money) for rent, for gas for anything fundamentally necessary.For those who simply don't want to work-- there should be food centers and homeless shelters where all can get a meal. They could also be provided a place to sleep undisturbed but they would get to push a broom next morning for the priviledge-- king o' the road so to speak.
MOVING RIGHT ALONG, Rob, you also wrote;" They said the Congressional Budget Office estimates the federal government will be forced to use $9 billion from the Social Security surplus this year. "
I've learned one thing from being a reporter in a po-dunk town... 'THEY' say an awful damn lot that never turns out to be true. If W. tried to tap Social Security it would be political suicide. Political creatures will do anything to get elected and they'll do WORSE to stay in office. He can't go around pissing off the elderly-- because the old folks generally vote. His daddy'd never let it happen. If I'm WRONG about that and he somehow manages to pull that nasty rabbit out of his hat I will apologize right here on this board. It damn sure won't be the first time that happened to me.

Your paternal grandfather sounds like someone I would have liked to have met. I understand completely. A 14 year old soldier-- how astoundingly brave! As YOU know, formal education has never been a prerequisite for brilliance, I would far rather spend an hour listening to a man like your grandfather than spend five minutes in the company of a degreed person who cares to squeeze nothing more out of life than his own diploma. OH, your Harlan cocktail party scenario was PRICELESS and your closing remark about, " I probably should have stopped at ‘He never returned to the farm" was utterly endearing.
It's good to meet you.

You are SO welcome, Scott.:) Hug Mel!

You are ALSO a buffalo gal! You handled the demon serpent and protected your puppies.
I'd leave that rock over the hole forever. Stay away from rock outcroppings especially if they face south. I can't believe they won't let y'all kill rattlesnakes out there. I wonder if it's a city thing or a state thing. Here it's illegal NOT to kill them. Well practically anyway. Today we discovered our best Brangus bull has been bitten in a place that renders him useless for what he was bought for. I've lost dogs to rattlesnake bites as well. I met a man a couple of years ago who lost his 22 month old daughter to a rattlesnake. She went out in the back yard and it struck her thigh. The Texas legislature heard arguements against allowing people to kill rattlesnakes a few years ago but in Texas most figure you have a right to protect your family and your livestock. The only rattlesnake guaranteed not to bite is a dead one who doesn't have his head.
Hello to Todd.

Mark Walsh,
I really like your style. Such a gentleman even when you're on the other side of the fence.

I figure Jesus would be the same as he was back then. He'd be hanging with whores and corporate criminals, gently letting them know they were accepted but still giving them things to think about that would probably make them uncomfortable. He would have been dispised because those whom society finds naturally repellant would be the group he embraced. Just like he did before. The Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells would be speaking out about what a crime it is for him to allude to being the son of God when they themselves are clearly so much more pious and sinless. Jesus MUST be doing something wrong, " they'd say," Just look at the company he keeps". The scribes and pharasees of those days are no different from the Swaggerts and the Falwells of today.

I reckon we wouldn't recognize him for what he is any more than they did back then.

p.s. Al Franken kills me too.

- Tuesday, October 28 2003 19:0:19

Blinky the Clown is a real person, by the way. A.K.A. Russell Scott, he's retired and runs Blinky's Antiques on Broadway in Denver. He starred in Blinky's Fun Club from the 60's until 1998. A few people I know who met him have said that although his screen persona was sweet as could be, off screen he's more like: GET THE FUCK OFF MY FUCKIN' LAWN, YOU LITTLE BASTARD!!

Still, I'm glad he was able to pop in and sing happy freakin' birthday.


Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Tuesday, October 28 2003 14:3:0

The Shadow knows. . .

I'm pretty sure that Maxwell Grant (a.k. Walter Brown Gibson) wrote his first novel in 1931 and that it was called "The Living Shadow." There was a related "shadow" character that appeared in George C. Jenks' story, "The Shadow of Wall Street," in the 1929 issue of Fame and Fortune, but I believe you want Grant's Shadow.

Remember: "Crime does not pay!" (Unless you're Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld),

Steve DOoner

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Tuesday, October 28 2003 13:40:7

Snakes! Yeeps!
To add to my lovely spouse's snake tale (tail) - The drainage holes in our yard are for two retaining walls that are built into the base of a small mountain (I call it a hill, locals call it a mountain.....it's a hill but I am required to now act like a local). What's behind those drainage holes is mountain dirt and mountain rock and mountain air between dirt and rock.

In my opinion, the great snake massacre that took place up North at home while I sweated down South at work resulted simply in Mr. Slither dragging himself through the mountain dirt to safety. Debbie is afraid to remove the rock from it's hidey hole spot, but I'm sure 'taint nothing there and hasn't been since the day she leapt into action.

As for snakes, especially rattlers, it's illegal for us to kill them if they are sniffing about the neighborhood. We must just step aside and call for help if they decide to nestle into a cozy sleep at our doorstep.

Now, as far as those scorpions and tarantulas go, THOSE MUTHUFUCKUHS ARE DYING!!! CRUUUUUNCH!!!!


Frank Church
- Tuesday, October 28 2003 13:11:31

Scott, as long as you don't have any grey hairs on your ball sack, you are fine. Happy Birthday, Ami Mon.


Mark, that stuff about downloading free music is a bogus arguement. Most downloaders either would never buy the song or album in the first place, and quite a few end up buying the album as well. As long as there is no money passing hands, sharing music sounds fine to me. No different than passing a buddy a blank tape with recorded music.


Cindy, in the Franken book, he has a funny cartoon called, Supply Side Jesus; you should read it. It shows what Jesus would be like if he was a true Republican. I like the part where the lepers ask to be healed, and Supply Side Jesus tells them they should have more personal responsibility in the future, and he doesn't heal them.

Look at the book of acts especially; Jesus is a marxist if any thing.


Glad we stopped mouthing off about sick films. Next question: Why do atheists call out to God when they orgasm?

Melissa Reeston
- Tuesday, October 28 2003 12:27:37


I stopped in, saw your post and called the husband. He said to thank you, and it was great.

He and Danielle threw cake at each other, making an awful mess of the kitchen. Scotty made out like a bandit, with tons of ooohs and aaahs at the Ellison paperback and the movie poster from "The Oscar", his retro white Montreal Canadiens sweater, a toy "Planet Express" ship, and his die cast Zoidberg and "Gender Bender". Danielle did well herself, scoring two first editions of "The Illustrated Ellison", and "Alone Against Tomorrow".

How soon before she decides to come here, I wonder?

Melissa, still cleaning cake off the wall...

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
Walshymansion - Tuesday, October 28 2003 12:26:52

HARLAN: FYI – I’ve been turning a few of my college students on to this website, especially your Kick Internet Piracy press release. Quite a few students have expressed interest in writing about Internet Piracy and when they ask me about it, I usually give them the URL to the press release. After reading it, many of the kids who were for free downloads of stuff that isn’t theirs are now thinking twice about it; and those who were against free downloads have had their argument bolstered by your thoughts on the issue. I have no pretension to converting mass numbers to the cause, but quite a few of my students have read your words and you’ve got them to THINK and even reconsider their position. And that is a good thing.

CINDY: A belated thank you for your reply to my post on Welfare. Since last posting on that topic, Alex, Rob and my brother Dooner have stolen my thunder and anything else I could have added would have amounted to piling on. But I did want to say thanks for your clarification.

SCOTT REESTON MY FRIEND: You said: “…any Quebecquois knows that Molson Export is the beer of choice.” I can dig that. But if I can shift the topic a bit and substitute Rush for Molson Export and ‘band’ for ‘beer’, is the statement still valid? I know you’ve expressed your love of Edith Piaf here and she’s a universe away from the Great White North’s Demigods of Rock, but I’m just curious as to your thoughts, is all.

FRANK: Have you checked out the new Gore Vidal book, “Inventing a Nation”? The man can still flat-out write.

Last night, my wife and I watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Is it just me, or is there something oddly Calvinist about Linus’s worship of the Great Pumpkin?


Reporting from Walshymansion, with half a new second floor and water stains on the ceiling, I am

AZ - Tuesday, October 28 2003 12:2:37

**Cindy: Hey I don't blame you for being rattled by that rattler!! So far I have had one snake in my yard. I just saw a tail disappear into a drain-hole in my fence. Thinking it was one of the many lizards I see out back, I bent down to peer in and saw a little head with darting tongue looking back at me. Now I thought it was just a little garter type snake. I didn't want any snake meeting my puppies in the yard, so I figured I'd capture it. I placed a jar around the hole and went inside to watch. Low and behold this thing as long as my thigh and fat as my arm comes out! Knocks the jar aside and slithers down along the wall. My heart was pounding! I had no idea if it would find a way out of the yard ( it has a concrete fence around it ). I knew it was not a rattler--but maybe posionous. And either way--it has fangs and my pups would not stand a chance. So this time when it went into another drainhole, I rushed out there, heart a- pounding, and covered the hole up with a big rock. And there it remains today. About two months now. I felt so bad locking it in. But what else could I do? Bother a fireman for that? I'm not as brave as you!! You chopped a rattler's head off! Wow!!

Jay Smith
- Tuesday, October 28 2003 10:50:41

Hey Scotty!
Happy birthday, my friend. Sorry so late.

Hope it was and is well.


- Tuesday, October 28 2003 10:28:3

A tidbit of assistance would be much appreciated. I am looking for the title of the very first pulp novel of THE SHADOW as written by Maxwell Grant. I've stumbled across an absolutely superb collection of the original SHADOW pulps in a local used bookstore, but since I'm currently being paranoid about my financial situation, one or two would suffice. Do any of you fellows know any other Grant SHADOW pulps to recommend?

Many, many thanks.


All right, anyone here who thinks Blinky the Clown should become a regular in the Dining Pavilion, raise your hands.

Scott Reeston
- Tuesday, October 28 2003 7:18:16

Thank you:




Roger - Happy birthday backatcha! And many more. We share our birthdate with Sylvia Plath, Teddy Roosevelt and Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran. I've yet to figure out the connection, and that frightens me more than a little. Bully! My son will have a case of envy about your comics.

And Ellison? Mother-in law surprised me with an original Fawcett Crest paperback issue of "Rockabilly", and in near fine shape. Spine was near perfect! Stunning, considering she'd started out almost completely hating me. BTW, that's the only HE Anna's read, and she bought it on original release.

Darryl - loving the coming winter. Got new treads for my A-Cat: I will however miss the crazed partner in crime and our insane 90 mph chases through the snowmobile trails here. How's the skiing coming?

Deb - Share birthdate with Danielle, my eldest. Put aside some for eating, then got into a hellish cake fight. Banana and chocolate taste pretty good mixed with shirt sleeves and glasses.

Lee - Pull my finger with Labatt's? Geez, any Quebecquois knows that Molson Export is the beer of choice. You've been living too long in France, mon ami! Still, nothing matches the malevolance of the gasses created from a meal of venison, pickled eggs and beans, washed down with Carling Black Label. Of course, we never let Ol' Saddam onto that one. The war crimes tribunal would have our asses for that one, and the U.N. and I are barely on speaking terms as it is.

And Mark.

And, Especially Blinky. The smeared greasepaint, the rancid cheeze and onion smell of his tattered costume, the cute way he'd flip the cop the bird as he honked his little horn, then spout profanities about police brutality as they shoved him into the cruiser after being busted for yet another DUI. (Sniff) brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it? Geez, mentioning he and Blaze-O and Bactine the Clown...

Yes, I know about the settlement, Finder and Bern. But the company only holds rights over the pictures and promotional material. They can't really hold you to the confidentiality agreement, can they?

Hope things are well, Xan.

Again thanks, mon amis.

Last, but not least. Here's for all those in L.A. and San Diego dealing with the fires. Some of the footage I seen would make for fine background for a filmed version of Dante's Inferno. Mel and I do worry, so please get through and may the fates see fit to spare your stuff as well as your backside.


Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Tuesday, October 28 2003 6:55:28

Cow Lore


It’s true that my cow knowledge begins and ends with ‘burger on the hoof’. And maybe something in grade school about them having more than one stomach. My orientation toward «pre-industrial» farming life comes from my paternal grandfather, who was the son of an Alabama dirt farmer tilling 90 acres with mule and steel plow in the early 1900’s. In grandpa’s own words, he had rather die fighting WWI than stare at the ass end of a mule for the rest of his life. The army shipped him back from Europe when they found out he was only 14 years old. He never returned to the farm.

He never got past the fourth grade in formal education, either. But he did read a lot, and by the time he died he had a good job as an industrial engineer at a local textile mill. To the end, dragging him into discussions about farming life was no more advisable than button-holing Harlan at a cocktail party to discuss how you’ve just finished a nice Reader’s Digest Condensed version of ‘A Boy and His Dog’, only without that awful part about the father seeing his daughter spread-eagled on the bed, and how you can’t wait to publish it as soon as the copyright laws finish collapsing.

To be honest, talking to my grandpa about farming was nowhere near that dangerous. I probably should have stopped at ‘He never returned to the farm.’

- Tuesday, October 28 2003 3:3:53


"Buy a mansion-- 10 percent extra will be the price-- same with the Hummer you choose to drive. The wealthy would pay the most because they choose to live an extravagant lifestyle-- but again it would be A CHOICE made by each individual American just HOW MUCH money he is prepared to pay. It would encourage thrift and it would not directly punish those among us with the initiative to become successful. It's the only fair way to go."

Well, first of all we weren't talking about sales tax as you did a moment ago. We're talking about a fixed income tax.

Outside your friends and the beer-guzzlers you left out some interesting groups. People with medical hassles, emotional hassles, low aptitudes; people with no families, people trying to get through school; families AND individuals on their own struggling without jobs and, so on. All these factors can contribute to one's income and employment status.

OK - we both know all this. So, if your income is below the cost-of-living...you're not going to have 10% to give anyone; you'll be lucky if you even have that for food. If my monthly expenses were, say, 160% of my monthly income...I would have nothing to spare; nothing at all. I might make 500 bucks, given some downturn, but my monthly expenses are $800. Well, I'm fucked. (And in walks your smiling landlord with an eviction notice when you can't make the rent.) This is the condition an adjusted gross income is supposed to accomodate. (Of course, as it IS tax policies don't address these problems ENOUGH).

Well...there are LOTS of people out there in that situation...for many different reasons. Often it's only a temporary set-back (though sometimes THAT lasts for a good while). But when your finances collapse and the big bills pour in you can really watch your plans pull out of port. It won't matter how good at budgeting you might be, when the cash isn't there nothing else is either. In any case, for whatever span their crisis might last, these are people who are not likely to have a cent to spare for ANYTHING, much less a fixed tax.

"Regarding your post on George W. and the Social Security and Medicare coffers-- where'd you get your information? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense"

Got it from NPR news...actually, it DOES make sense. Because resources to pay for Bush's massive tax cut (for the wealthy, yet), along with the war and the economic downturn have deee-hydrated. They said the Congressional Budget Office estimates the federal government will be forced to use $9 billion from the Social Security surplus this year.

When shall we pop the champagne?

(And sense when has anything Bush done made sense? Like I really had to say it.)

Andrew <drew71@hotmail.com>
San Diego, CA - Tuesday, October 28 2003 0:7:3


As far as I know, they're blaming the LA area fires on a couple of arsonists. They are still investigating 2 out of the 4 San Diego fires. They're pretty sure that "live-fire" exercises sparked the blaze at Camp Pendleton. The "Cedar" fire (the one that has done the most damage and caused the most concern for me) was "allegedly" set by a hunter who'd gotten separated from his buddy and then decided to signal said buddy by lighting a signal fire. Luckily, he's in police custody. It's the safest place for him right now.

Yours, coughingly,

TEXAS - Monday, October 27 2003 20:32:57


I'll say it once again-- in case you still have doubts. I really wasn't being sarcastic when I said I agreed with you all. I will allow that coming up with less succinct terms for the word BUM-- was a bit smart assy. My placement of that alternate phraseology apparently compromised your reception of my statement of utter accord.

I disagree with you about the 10 percent. Most impoverished people that I know would let a dime skitter down the street without chasing after it or expending the minimal effort required to just bend over and pick it up. Purchase a six pack of beer and pay around 36 cents tax-- not a big deal even for someone who only has five bucks to spend. Spend a little pay a little. Save a lot-- pay a little. Spend like Imelda Marcos and your tax bill will probably make you wince. No more tax loopholes-- no more treasury bill shuffles or corporate expenditures written off. Buy a mansion-- 10 percent extra will be the price-- same with the Hummer you choose to drive. The wealthy would pay the most because they choose to live an extravagant lifestyle-- but again it would be A CHOICE made by each individual American just HOW MUCH money he is prepared to pay. It would encourage thrift and it would not directly punish those among us with the initiative to become successful. It's the only fair way to go.

Regarding your post on George W. and the Social Security and Medicare coffers-- where'd you get your information? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But neither does the idea of giving social security over to your average joe so he can "invest" it in the stockmarket-- Hell, you might as well send Lee to the auction next Monday with instructions to put together a herd of top of the line, sure 'nough fancy Brangus heifers. While we're on it I'm sure one of y'all can tell me the reason W. wants us to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq. I prefer the loan arrangement-- except I'd make the loan on the FULL amount including the initial overthrow of Saddam. When a physician removes a person's damaged spleen he doesn't PAY for the privilege of performing the operation. I was pleased that the congress had the sense to say no-- but disgusted that they didn't say HELL no-- and make the loan for the entire tab.



I only included you in my diatribe because you implied that you don't live near any farm animals so I figured you wouldn't know the first thing about how to buy cattle.


I am so delighted by the prospect of your new work. That's just wonderful-- for all of us. Tell ya what, you can just put that little matter on the back burner for as long as you like.

Write on!


Happy Birthday.

From your friend in Texas


It's turning colder here in Texas. Our first blue norther blew in on Saturday, with it a rattlesnake that lay by my front door. I stepped out with some laundry and saw the bottom end about six inches from my foot-- the coon tail caught my eye first, then I noticed the buttons. He wasn't a very belligerent snake until I smacked him with the grubbing hoe the first time. He valued his tail and took my attack quite personally. No, I hadn't aimed at his tail-- I'm just not very proficient with garden implements. Meantime, my mom called and my youngest girl was giving her a blow by blow account of what was happening on the porch. My mother told Paris to call 911. Paris, who is 7 said, " Mama's got it handled." I almost broke the cement but I managed to hack the nasty thing's head off. I then went inside and sat down in a chair. I don't know why but my hands shook for a good 20 minutes. I was rattled by a little snake- I can't imagine facing those fires in California. I hope it's all extinguished soon so those people can start putting their lives back together. Watching it on television. I can't even imagine what it must be like out there.

They said it was started by a person?

Blinky the Clown <what's it to ya?>
- Monday, October 27 2003 20:11:19


Happy freakin' birthday to you,
Happy freakin' birthday to you,
Happy freakin' *UURRP* day dear Shcotty, ya little Canuck pisher youse,
Happy freakin' birthday to yooooouuuuu!


There ya go, Shuck, ya bastard! Where's my fifty?

- Monday, October 27 2003 18:12:45


I tried to get Blinky the Clown to sing Happy Birthday to you, but the grouchy old fart won't come out of retirement. I would have tried bribery, but he threatened to call the cops. So, I'll have to wish you happy birthday without fuckin' Blinky.

Happy Birthday!


Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Monday, October 27 2003 17:55:14


Happy Birthday, man! Keep up the good fight.

Steve Dooner

Roger Gjovig <rlgjovig@aol.com>
Des Moines, Iowa - Monday, October 27 2003 17:37:29

Happy Birthday Scott. It is also my 52nd Birthday today. I have gotten a lot of Ellison works to fill my collection the last couple of weeks. The Al Williamson book, the hardback DV from the science fiction book club and the special edition autographed Boy and His Dog to start with. Then I went to a comic convention here in DEs Moines and got Daredevil 208 and 209,Chamber of Chills 1,Avengers 101 and Detective Comics 567 which all had the entire issue with a story Harlan had penned or a short one as part of the magazine. The really cool things I got were ones I wasn't even looking for.First was a mint bibliographical checklist by Leslie Kay Swigert, second edition that would appear to suppliment the longer first edition I also have.Lastly i also found rbcc 151 which is a special Ellison issue with stories, interviews and photos of Ellison Wonderland and lots of drawings. It was put out in 1980. Cool stuff.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Monday, October 27 2003 15:42:55

Frank, silly little things like whether or not my uniform-rooting-interest wins World Championship #27 or not (or, World Championship #8 in my lifetime)are not what keep me from getting out of bed. I am a much stronger man than that......now, if the Steelers keep farting up the gridiron like they are doing this year........!!!

Interesting how my first and current homes are the two teams to beat the Yankees in the WS the past few years: born in Miami Beach, now reside in Phoenix.

PS, to all you baseball fanatics out there: There is a terrific new DVD available called 100 Years Of The World Series. If you love baseball, get it! Get the 2-disc special edition, not the 1-disc edition. Not only does this consist of a 3 and a half hour documentary chronologically barreling through every World Series ever played, with terrific footage, but the bonus disc includes such wonderful nuggest as photos of every World Series program, All-World Series lineups, and neatest of all final out celebrations and locker room partying from the past 30+ years.

There's more on that second disc, but I haven't watched it yet. Hey, how can I sulk this weekend after watching the honored teams with their World Championship count in order: Anaheim Angels - 1..........St. Louis Cardinals-9. Athletics - 9. Yankees - 26. Looks like a runaway to me.

This DVD is for only the true baseball nerd. I didn't fast forward through a single minute of the documentary.


Frank Church
- Monday, October 27 2003 13:31:30

Sad to know that my beautiful San Diego is being burnt up. I used to live there; left because of the expense. Be safe you mooks.


Todd, surprised you even got out of bed. How much do you want to bet Steinbrenner will blame the salary cap on the loss.


This Elizabeth Smart media war is making me visably ill. Why can't that family just keep their buisiness private? Every body has to make money off tragedy. The media deserves intense shame for this shit. The shit isn't even news. Has everyone gone insane?

Oprah pipes up that she should have had the first interview. I would surmise that she isn't as nice as she presents herself. Look at the corporate loser she has for a boyfriend.


Yippeee, Michael Moore is coming to town thursday. Ten bucks to see him. Hell, I'm game. Fatty better put out. Lol.


Joel, you are sane, right? How could you listen to that GG Allin racket?

Better off reading Mein Kampf in a bathtub full of maggots.

Bay Area, CA - Monday, October 27 2003 12:49:51

Happy Birthday Scott
May you have many, many more, my Labatt's drinking, hockey playing, cold loving (as in loving cold weather, not cold in loving loved ones, oh, never mind), straight thinking friend. Hope you have a great day.

Gunther Schmidl <gschmidl@gmx.at>
- Monday, October 27 2003 12:24:54

ROB: That makes me wonder, what did you think of Gollum in Two Towers?

- Monday, October 27 2003 12:15:49


Your comment about THE HULK was interesting because we seem to be sitting on opposite extremes. I found the CGI to be among the most disappointing elements (and CGI is part of my major in school so I'm looking at it very carefully) and some of Ang Lee's eccentric narrative touches - the larger flaws aside - REALLY interesting. TOO interesting to dispense with the movie so wholly as Frank did. I refer you to my superb "HULK goes post-Modernist" review in the archives (MYSELF, of course, being the only one astute enough to perceive its distinction) for details. In spite of the knocks it took there ARE some good passages in the film and some excellent acting.

My reaction to the CGI through much of the movie, on the hand, was "we're just not there yet".

While I'm not THAT attached to the movie, it was the best infomercial on how to handle daily stress I've ever seen. It made me think more about the scale of low, moderate and high stress factors that can land on you in a typical day...and the importance in how to HANDLE them. The movie allowed us to assess the potential physical toll emotional strain can have and what happens when our coping mechanisms break down. I think its message is that sometimes the best way to alleviate stress is by getting into a weird shouting match with your dad. Really profound stuff. The whole film simply opened my eyes. And I think there was even a 1-800 number in the closing credits.

This movie changed my life and if you give it a chance it can do the same for YOU.

AZ - Monday, October 27 2003 11:48:7

**Happy Birthday Scott! Hope Mel made you a nice fat cake. Enjoy your day!
**Can't wait to read Harlan's " The Final Experiment Of The Son Of Dr Moreau "---sounds great!

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Monday, October 27 2003 9:14:59


And there you had me convinced it was my bounden dooty to cure your ulcers and get you off anti-depressants.

Yer sucha cameelyun.

And isn’t 40 yrs when you get to start asking the kids to pull your finger while you quaff Labatt’s and read tasty Ellisons in the Lazy-Boy? Since passing 40 myself it’s getting harder and harder to remember.

Mark Walsh
- Monday, October 27 2003 9:13:12

Scott Reeston, my friend: Happy Birthday; you don't look a day over thirty-five.

All Best,

Joseph J. Finn
- Monday, October 27 2003 8:49:12



Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
Lakewood, Colorado - Sunday, October 26 2003 22:46:24

The scent of burning trees, etc.

"Why do I feel like an extra from "Logan's Run"?" What does that make me, you young whippersnapper? Dagnabit!

To all those in the wildfire area: I know exactly how you feel. I hope the rains come soon and your air will clear. It's eerie to see a dark orange sun in midday, isn't it? Know this: the fires will end.

More new Harlan Ellison writing coming down the pike. Goody-goody.

And may I complement Susan Ellison on the latest Rabbit Hole? Very nice indeed.


DTS <none>
- Sunday, October 26 2003 19:12:52

HARLAN, ANDREW, ROB & CHRIS: Hope ALL you guys stay safe (the news they report this far East -- the midwest -- makes the wildfires sound like trouble for Los Angeles & San Diego -- which is a pretty wide swath).

Best wishes,

- Sunday, October 26 2003 17:43:49

Three cheers for Harl Ellison!

Hip, hip...HOORAY! Hip, hip...HOORAY! Hip, hi - does he like being called Harl?


"And the reason Bushie doesn't look like the job has worn on him these past few years is because ignorance is bliss."

No kidding. You want a good example of 'BEFORE/AFTER'? Check out Clinton's hair just before he enters the Oval Office, and then check out his hair just after leaving the Oval Office. Snow WHITE.

Andrew <drew71@hotmail.com>
San Diego , Hell - Sunday, October 26 2003 17:3:1


I don't know how close the fires got to youse guys. I can tell you that flames were clearly visible on a ridge, not 5 miles east of my house (and all that with high winds blowing to the west). Luckily, the fire seems to have moved south, but the way this conflagration's moved, I ain't outta the woods yet.

Now, if they'd let my wife go home (her place of work has been in a lockdown to keep the employees and the patrons safe) I might actually feel better.

I hope that a nasty cough is all that you get saddled with.

Cough, cough,

Chris L
- Sunday, October 26 2003 16:25:13

Frank misstated:

**I know you all like Lucius Shepherd, but the guy actually praised the shitty Hulk film. A few months late there old bean. **

Er, uh, say wha'? Don't tell me your reading comprehension skills have deteriorated as badly as your film criticism skills, Frankie my boy.

He gave The Hulk a negative review but praise the CGI and action sequences and quite rightly so. The Hulk fetaured the best CGI sequences I have ever seen and the battle in the desert is the most remarkable action sequence of the CGI era - truly exciting action filmmaking. How strange that Ang Lee would make such great action sequences and then fail at almost every other aspect of the film. Hulk didn't quite succeed but I will likely rent it just to watch the action scenes again and I can't think of many films I'd say that about. Those few scenes were true movie magic. The rest... what a disappointment.

To all the LA area folks:

Out here in Anaheim Hills, it's even worse. Yesterday when I woke up the room was almost dark and I thought I must have woken up very early. I looked at the clock and it was 11 a.m. (sue me, I'm a night person). There was only a dim sickly orange candle glow barely creeping in through my windows. I went outside to find a quarter inch of white ash covering the parking lot. The sun was a grotesque orange blot barely visible. Definitely a scene out of a post-apocalyptic film. Today, the sky is clearer but the air is even fouler. When the wind kicks up even a little bit, my eyes burn. You gotta love SoCal.

- Sunday, October 26 2003 15:24:51



No, for once this isn't a response to Frank. It's this eerie blanket of smoke covering the city. You can smell the ash and it's trapping all the heat. This is the sorta shit that killed the dinosaurs.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Sunday, October 26 2003 14:22:48

Go Yankeeeeeees!

Oh, wait, is it over?

Angels in 2002. Marlins in 2003. Can we now stop talking about how only the teams that spend the most win?

It's a great sport, regardless of who spends what money. Football? Snore. 80% of the NFL finishes 8-8, the rest win either two more or two less, and then you get 2 really bad records and 2 really good records. Parity, thy name is boredom.


Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Sunday, October 26 2003 13:14:18

Yeah, HATED was one of the best documentaries of the Nineties. I've owned a copy for years--still watch it every so often. I don't think it's much of a reflection of America's youth, though, since GG had a cult following even within the punk scene.
He wasn't that popular with the sensitive punk rock crowd. I always enjoyed his music myself--it was more in the spirit of the original punk music, unlike most of his contemporaries. Suge Knight probably has more to do with the way America's youth are than GG ever did.

What makes me laugh about KILL BILL was that it probably cost more to make than all of its influences combined, and it isn't nearly as good.

Frank Church
- Sunday, October 26 2003 12:10:57

Speaking of Manos, I wonder if the oil painting with the dog and the creepy guy is still around? I would actually buy that thing--scare my friends.


Chris, I've had Kentucky Fried Chicken on Gramma's china (before it was called "KFC"), and it was damn good. I didn't burp at the table either.


I looked everywhere for V-Life, hope to see it somewhere soon.

And I would not joke about Suge Knight; I heard the guy is a bad dude; I still believe he may have killed Tupac.


Joel, nah, the sickest film to rent is Hated: GG Allin And The Murder Junkies; which is a documentary about the last tour of punk rock singer/sicko/animal GG Allin. Hard to watch, but a fascinating, and horrible study of what America is spawning in it's youth.

Can't even describe the scenes, that's how sick it is.

Well, God Bless.


I know you all like Lucius Shepherd, but the guy actually praised the shitty Hulk film. A few months late there old bean.

Cynical Girl
- Sunday, October 26 2003 11:31:29

Lee are there any more like you at home? I'd like to distribute one to each of my single girlfriends who are convinced that the one good man has eluded them.

Gunther Schmidl <gschmidl@gmx.at>
- Sunday, October 26 2003 10:45:48

I just heard of the fires around LA. I hope everyone is safe.

Scott Reeston
- Sunday, October 26 2003 9:34:16


Simple humour and hyperbole. Rich is one of those I've come to like hereabouts. Frightening, isn't it?

Now, if all will excuse, tomorrow shall mark my fortieth year on this dust bowl. I go to grieve my youth, for I will be a OLD MAN with the dawn. No, do not pity me. I will take this well, unflinching as I pull up my pants to shoulder height, beginning the shrinkage into a more economically sized coffin: a 48 long, with extra room in the seat. With pinstripes. I like pinstripes.

Why do I feel like an extra from "Logan's Run"?

Scott, now possessing a forwarding address on the same street as the Grim Reaper.

- Sunday, October 26 2003 6:58:8

Ok, enough about me...how 'bout that Ellison guy, huh? Huh? Good, good news regarding new work. And incendiary is always nice, too.

And the reason Bushie doesn't look like the job has worn on him these past few years is because ignorance is bliss. I mean, the man was absolutely, positively perplexed that the majority of the Muslim community thinks he is against them during his recent whirlwind tour across Asia and locales therein. He doesn't understand how the International Community thinks the US is so pro-Israel (umm, because we are); he doesn't understand how his war on terrorism is taken to be a war between Christians and Muslims (umm, because he used the word crusade and one of his generals said it was a fight against Satan); he doesn't understand why the International Community sees the US as a threat (umm, because you invaded Iraq for what appears to be no other reason than personal gain and have threatened other countries). He doesn't understand this and I would say that's because ignorance really is bliss in his case. He makes Reagan look like a Mensa member.

But, I hear Bush is quite the personable fellow. Which is good.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Sunday, October 26 2003 1:28:29


Rich and I tapped gloves a few posts back, and everything since has been in fun.

As for the rotten candy swill of popular culture that tickles our nostril hairs, ready to drown us all like Tiger Lily with the tide coming in, I have only two words to set against it: ‘women’ and ‘babies’. And I’m not talking about bony little teenagers with full breasts and empty minds. I’m talking about that one good woman, that inexplicably and heroically commits her heart and the lives of her children to your sorry little self and says "I’m here, and I’m not leaving, and I’m going to have your babies."

Until then, all the searching and asking and thinking and fighting hasn’t been any better than Vonnegut’s famous meaning of life: ‘fart around and die’. ‘Citizen Kane’ or ‘Brady Bunch’ reruns; what’s the difference if genius and moron alike end up lying side by side in the same graveyard? But with the birth of your children, the only truly meaningful act is perfectly fulfilled as the lives of your own little buckaroos arch on out past the place where your own story ends, to carry on.

And you may be right about stupidity being a creeping fungus that no showering can cleanse, but my children started out clean as the driven snow. Five more chances of crawling out from under the wheels of the machine. And if hypocrites and idiots are elected President today, they were inbred hereditary emperors yesterday, when 98% of the human population lived within 100 yards of a barnyard animal and spent at least part of every day staring at the teats of a cow.

People like you and Rich are 1 in 1,000,000, and it’s hard for like to find like with odds that bad, but the same creeping mass culture that gave us Amazon.com also wired it into rare and used bookshops, and abandoned-looking websites like this one, making it easier than ever before for people like you to find your own kind, trade notes, and find an out of print tasty Ellison. It’s a good world, and getting better. I’m happy to be here.

Chris L
- Saturday, October 25 2003 21:6:26

Joel wrote of Kill Bill:

*Still seems to be a hell of a lot of time and money and attention paid to what is essentially a sanitized version of a 70s exploitation film. It's like putting Kentucky Fried Chicken on your grandma's china.... *

Goddamn, that's just about the best review I've ever read. I could have saved myself so much time and bandwidth if I could have expressed that sentiment so succinctly.

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Saturday, October 25 2003 19:37:37

I spit on Bill's house....in reverse.
I was in Reno the last couple of days, trying to make some money for booze, books, and movie rentals. Actually did okay.

Wife and I saw IRREVERSIBLE recently---waaaay too gimmicky for my taste, but it's true that it features one of the most intense and probably the most realistic rape scenes. What's disturbing is that it seems like the many people selling it on EBay are using the same scene as a selling point. Yech.

The trouble with LAST HOUSE is that it doesn't really have a "rape scene." It's implied and it's obvious that it happened to the two female victims but it's not shown on screen. They are brutalized and it's disturbing and graphic...and also realistic. I don't think the film has the twisted moralism and sexualized murder scenes that a lot of the films which came later did. I think there's much more of a case for DRESSED TO KILL and the many slasher films of the 80s being misogynistic than LAST HOUSE....it's more misanthropic. However, there's no defending I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. It's everything its detractors say it is, and probably even worse.

Speaking of misanthropic, knowing that human beings created a film like MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE would give anyone a hate-on for the human race. I've been a bad movie veteran for years now, and I've never dared to watch that thing without Mystery Science Theater 3000 to help me through it. It's the triple black diamond ski slope of bad films.

My fave Japanese big monster flick would have to be just about anything with the Big G himself, with a few exceptions---Son of Godzilla and Godzilla's Revenge will give anyone above the age of 5 or so a case of revenge of a very different kind....I prefer any of the monster bashes involving Godzilla, Rodan, Mechagodzilla, Ghidrah, etc....loved them as a kid, still love them now.

And I finally saw KILL BILL over the weekend. It has good and bad points, and is entertaining overall, which is more than I can say for most movies, so I guess it's one in the win column. Still seems to be a hell of a lot of time and money and attention paid to what is essentially a sanitized version of a 70s exploitation film. It's like putting Kentucky Fried Chicken on your grandma's china....

- Saturday, October 25 2003 16:11:34

Lawn Singing
Don't forget Yummy Yummy and Run Joey Run....I'll be there with bells on, and figgy pudding. Unless I get a personal phone call from you saying that it's off.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Saturday, October 25 2003 15:47:48

HARLAN: That is just whiz-bang, socko, keen, groovy news! I am going to have a great November thanks to your industry.


FRANK AND BILL: You guys want some movies that will ruin your life more than the "maggot" birth scene in Cronenberg's dreadful remake of "The Fly"?

Todd Browning's "Freaks" has stuck with me over the years like epoxy peanut butter. Perhaps it is the lead midget's German accent, perhaps it is the real-life micro-encephalic pinheads, but I am truly afraid of that movie. The movies you mention have buckets of blood, but they never gave me the creeps.

The most mean-spirited and tawdry movies I've ever seen have all been given Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. They are "Those Incredible Mixed Up Zombies," "Manos, Hands of Fate," and "The Melting Man." If movies could nauseate by cheapness alone, those would be the three. I cannot endure sitting in front of any of those movies as they represent five precious hours of life I shall never get back.

As for absolutely my worst childhood memory ever, I would have to saw it is that Japanese masterpiece, "Attack of the Mushroom People," which I argue is the worst movie in history.

Yours till the brown Gargantua returns,

Steve Dooner

Tucson, - Saturday, October 25 2003 14:33:18

Harlan: AWESOME. Thanks for the update. And I wouldn't worry about Suge. You studied with Bruce Lee, no? Old don't necessarily mean slow.



DTS <none>
- Saturday, October 25 2003 13:4:41

HARLAN: No! More! Messages! To Clarice! Got it. All future queries will be directed straight at the horse's mouth. By the way, since I'm giving up my semi-annoying ways, does this mean I have to personally call ALL of the regulars on this board and tell 'em that my idea to gather on your lawn next May and do a rendition of "Sugar, sugar" in honor of your 70th is hereby called off?
Let me know when you need another batch of burnt ends from LC's -- we'll ship them to ya overnight, packed in aluminum foil and dry ice.
Your KC buddy (how 'bout them Chiefs?),

- Saturday, October 25 2003 11:55:52


"What's my grade?"

A very REASONABLE one.

The only problem, of course, about the across-the-board tax concept is that it's regressive. If you're making 100K a year and I barely have the coinage to refill my Arrowhead bottle, 10% obligations might mean nothing to you but to me it could be like the Krakatoa of rapes. TRULY, I would have to sing to the tune 'BEND over'. And I would have NOTHING to give BACK. Not the stuff of a mutual relationship.

The answers are NEVER simple. And yet some of them ARE, if policy-makers would make the effort. Reform is what's needed (not cutting); and that should start with eliminating this "welfare for the rich" (as in the top 1%) going on right now. (are you aware that Bush - in all his fidelity - is digging into social security and Medicare to pay for his cuts even as we speak?)

Thanks for responding.

Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Saturday, October 25 2003 11:31:30

No, Frank, being shocked isn't art. But I didn't say these movies were art, either. I simply said that I don't think they're as exploitive as some believe them to be. These are horror flicks and horrible things happen in them. The filmmakers wanted to see how far was too far and they succeeded.

But, what do I know? I'm a kid raised in the 1980s on knife-kill movies and have been desensitized by the nightly news, rap music, and McDonald's.


Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Saturday, October 25 2003 11:13:35

HARLAN: Excellent news! I just popped in here on my lunchbreak from demolishing various walls on the first floor of my house (as construction is in full swing now)and was greeted with your post. Looking forward to reading every last word!


Joseph J. Finn <JosephFinn@mac.com>
Chicago, IL, IL - Saturday, October 25 2003 11:5:36

Sheesh - I have to agree with Frank on something? Why God, why am I tormented like this!?!

But anyhoo, enough with the wailing and gnashing. Do take Frank's advice and rent "Sick" sometime when you feel you can handle the total psychological dissection and self-revealment of a human being on film. 5 minutes of the film has more truth about human nature and relationships than a host of Nora Ephron movies. It's a hard watch (the camera shots are unflinching in showing Bob Flanagan and his partner Sheree Rose's particular practices), but absolutely worth it.

Hell, I'm not geting across the whole wonder of the movie. Here, go read a review:



- Saturday, October 25 2003 9:51:37

Not to derail y'all from your sage considerations of garbage movies as deterrents for rape, Cindy's beatification or denigration, ruminations on the state of Rich's sanity, and the folklore of Welfare In Our Time, butI thought I'd impose on your good nature and pop in like a wraith to mention that I've been writing up a storm, like the little thunderhead y'all think me.

Completed the introduction (more than 5000 words) for the collection of Jacques Futrelle's "Thinking Machine" stories, with a print date early in November from the Modern Library; was commissioned to write an essay on "Infamy: The Modern Celebrity" for V LIFE magazine (the big new slick bedsheet-size magazine that daily Variety publishes monthly, beginning last September), and it went to press yesterday (look for it in the November issue, cover essay, about 4500 words); according to Leonard Maltin and the editors of V LIFE, this piece will probably get me whacked by Suge Knight or one of the other "celebs" I opined about. They tell me it is a bit too incendiary for this town and its sensitive inhabitants. We shall see, we shall see.

And I'm working to finish "The Final Experiment of the Son of Dr. Moreau" for original first-appearance in the Edgeworks Abbey/iBooks reissue of STRANGE WINE, which title had to be moved back a bit because I had been mired with the Futrelle thing and didn't catch the STRANGE WINE deadline ... so, Dorman, if you love me, please kindly stop e-mailing Clarice and nuhdzing her about the proposed new pub date. Nuhdz ME, if you have to, for review purposes (which I much appreciate, as you know), but plz plz plz stop contacting iBooks, because all they do is fax me copies of your queries, with whining and hangdog guilt-trips about, "Where's the story? We're losing our audience! See, just look at this!" And, of course, it's your perfectly innocent and proper e-mails to their office.

Ah loves ya, sweetie, y'know that ... but you only make me look bad when you pipe in like that. Please perceive my friendly tone of voice here.

All best otherwise, everybody; and now you can get back to your Sociology 101 conversation. (And, Cindy, never fear; I haven't forgotten I had that matter between us to address. I'll get to it.), yr. pal,


Frank Church
- Saturday, October 25 2003 9:6:16

Good Jello Biafra interview:


Sorry Rick.

Scott Reeston
- Saturday, October 25 2003 8:44:14


There is nothing wrong with Rich. He is like most of us here, furtively pushing back the growing psychic malaise that creeps over him as he views a world of venality, where hypocrites and idiots are elected President, corruption spews forth from every corporate deal, thievery and intellectual dishonesty wait on every channel and every newspaper he'll peruse. Rarely does Rich receive a deserved respite of literary and artistic merit, sloughing through the tepid swamps of Crichton/Grisham/Steele traps at the Big and Nasty, knowing they torment him with a vision of purchase Joyce or Kinsella or perhaps a tasty Ellison; he arrives and finds none available. The Cineplex teases with the hope of a "Adaptation": instead he is trapped within the bowels of a Pauly Shore film fest (Buuuddieeeeee). And, in the cool of 4 ayhem, Rich looks toward the sky as so many of us do, crying for fellowship with those who feel that there must be an end to the feeling that stupidity is a creeping fungus that no showering can cleanse.

Rich is intelligent, you see.

You know, I've noticed that the job of president isn't aging Baby Shrub physically as it does to those who preceded him. The worry lines aren't being engraved, the hair isn't whitening. Perhaps it's his overall lack of comprehension as he struggles to pronounce the word "nook-you-lar" as the grown-ups do.

Perhaps there's real truth to the adage Ignorance is Bliss.

Time to feed my ulcers and take my anti-depressants.


Frank Church
- Saturday, October 25 2003 8:5:41

Lee, Rich is a decent bloke, but he is like many liberals on this board, who are more conservative then they let themselves believe. But we love him. He does wear womans clothing, and likes being hit by a fly swatter, but we never judge.


Cindy seems to think non-profits swallow this benevolence drug before swearing in on a stack of perfumed bibles, sanctified by the Pope and the angel Gabriel.

People sometimes start non-profit scams just to make a buck. In our news here alone there are many stories:

We had this family who lied about their kid having cancer, just so they could get money for this fake foundation. How sick is that to use your own kid?

Cindy, I'd snuggle a moonshine glass with you anytime, but facts are a good thing. But so are you.

Why not just appoint umbudsman to oversee where money goes? Or government councels. Government can be used for evil, but in the right hands, can be used for good.

We will make a liberal out of you yet.


Bill, is being shocked art? Even shock must have a reasoned meaning.


If you all want to see a movie that uses shock and revulsion in the right way, rent Sick, Bob Flanagan, Super Masochist, which is a documentary about masochistic performance artist of same name who used pain as a balm for his severe lung disease, that kills him in the end.

See a man nail his penis to a block of wood. In loving blood spurting color! Sounds sick? It is, but the movie is sad. And Flanagan didn't do his deeds for perverted reasons. A very interesting flick.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Saturday, October 25 2003 4:32:7

To the forum regulars, greatly enjoyed and often admired:

As the true qualities of the characters posting on this forum are gradually revealed over time, it is becoming clear that there is something depraved and possibly dangerous about Rich.

Now excuse me while I back away slowly, letting Rich go ahead and keep the pajamas.

- Friday, October 24 2003 22:13:55

The Eyes Had It

I see Jack Elam passed away on Monday. He was 84. He was a favorite, of mine, what I thought of as a character actor's character actor. I get the impression he was the kind of guy you wouldn't mind having a beer with. And the stories he'd tell....

In fond remembrance,

Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Friday, October 24 2003 17:34:14

Okay, maybe I'm sick, but I don't see either LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT or I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE as making rape seem luike entertainment. Well, maybe for the guys who are sick enough to perform it, but as an audience member, I was shocked and appalled...just as I was supposed to be. I think they're both brutal and both get the point of the horror across. Both are revenge stories in which the brutal nature of the antagonists turn what would be normal, civil folk (y'know, like the rest of us?) into brutal protagonists. Though the evil-doers are made to pay in both, one wonders at what cost for the good-guys. But then, maybe I'm reading too much into these flicks.

Oh, and I prefer LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT to I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, but neither are favorites of mine. Though I do own the Anchor Bay video of one of them. I'll get the DVD of the other at some point, I'm sure.


Alex Jay Berman <alexjay@earthlink.net>
Philadelphia, - Friday, October 24 2003 15:39:1

Typing through the pain ...
If there are mistakes in this post, please pardon; I--who have such a high tolerance as to damned near never feel pain, am currently experiencing thumbs-in-the-eyesballs-so-you-forget about the tooth pain. If you read the Forum, you'll understand.


Cindy, I see where you're coming from. A lot of neocons and conservatives have been putting forth the charity-based helpfare system, many tying it into various "faith-based" ideas.

But ...

I've worked for nonprofits. Did it for six years. And I have to tell you that your vision of a loosely-connected network of local non-profits dispensing help is based on a utopian and pretty much unrealistic view.

"[put welfare] in the hands of local non- profits governed by unpaid boards that would have no ax to grind and no palms to grease. People who are involved in public works for the good and not for the money are usually in a good position to recognize who's respectable and who's a weasel. People who are in the trenches trying to help will know where the greatest need is and could best address how to tend to it."

A-heh. Ah-hah. BWAH-HA-HAHAHA!!!

No axes to grind? No palms to grease? I have to tell you, nonprofits--even the best of them--are full of greased palms and ground axes. Remember the brouhaha about the compensation and shady pay of the head of the Red Cross who had to resign?

Office politics are exponentially increased when it comes to places who have to deal with state and federal oversight and funding hassles, and staffing shortages, and, and, and ... Also, the burden of do-good-ing--as well as the constant worry about bad publicity hurting the organization--is a heavy one. This is why there's such a great amount of churn--that is, turnover--among non-profit staffers and executives. If you look at the newsletter of Institutional Development (I forget the publication's actual name), you'll see musical chairs-staffing at the executive level, as people in the nicey-nice business continually move to new organizations. Also, and perhaps more importantly, the burnout rate is sky-high. It takes a toll on a person to continually work with the forgotten, the overlooked, the abused. And the toll grows all the faster for the many a helper sees who simply cannot be helped. Those cracks that people can fall between can suck in a worker's will, you know.

And the notion of unpaid-board-governance is straight out of Buck Rogers. If the person is Bill Gates, then sure; he can go unpaid. But the boards will, by necessity, have to be made up of a diverse spectrum of people, to avoid favoriutism, discrimination, classism, what have you. And the people who are needed for this simply cannot donate the huge blocks of time needed. Do me a favor. Go to your local newspaper's archives and pull up all the mentions of a given non-profit--say, a prominent social organization, an art museum, a university. You'll see a lot of institutional acrimony, and very often some shady dealings.

This isn't to say that non-profits are across-the-board bad; just that the people who run them are human, and just as fallible as all the rest of us. And Charle's de Lint's Grasso Street Angel character notwithstanding, very few samaritans have the psychic wherewithal to forever give of themselves. It's painful. Numbing. And it grinds you down.

Then there's the issue of who's in charge. What sotrt of wutonomy do these organizations have? What sort of higher federal or state watchdog agencies will have provenance over them? And most importantly, where's the MONEY to come from?
Another problem with this idea is that intra-organizational cooperation would be stilted and stunted, without a definite overarching infrastructure there.
(And yes; I know that the current infrastructure is as boated as a new Microsoft program, but at least there IS an infrastructure; there ARE set procedures mandated.)

Another thing which has to be taken into account is the HUGE potential for macro-failure when you place the entire burden of certain types of prgrams under local or municipal control. What happens when the locality in question runs out of money (see: "California, local social programs, 2004")? What happens when the locality in question is so corrupt as to entrench its corruption no matter what governmental shakeups occur?
(I mind me the recent problems with Camden, New Jersey's mayor and staff, or the huge morass of corruption that was the Betty Loren-Maltese gang in Cicero, outside of Chicago. I know that one or two cities sprung to all of YOUR minds when you read the above.)

Who watches the Watchmen, Cindy?

(And more importantly, who PAYS the watchmen?)

TEXAS - Friday, October 24 2003 14:36:13

Mike Jacka was right when he said, " I don’t know how you improve everyone’s ethical compass. But I do know you can’t throw out a system just because there is some abuse – if you did, every system would be thrown away"
Steve Dooner was RIGHT when it came to the entire list of "what welfare is" and utterly correct in his assertion that we MUST have the things he listed therein. But I never deigned to portray welfare, or AFDC, as " a waste of taxpayer's money, as a scam invented by Democrats to bilk you out of your dough or as a sinister game" This was never my mindset nor was it a part of what I said.
Steve Dooner was INCORRECT when he stated I was bashing ADC-- I was bashing the social worker bitch who said in order to get legal aide to get my rich ex to cough up the pittance he was ordered to pay wanted to strong arm me into getting ADC and foodstamps, which some mothers MUST have to survive.
Alex Jay Berman was ABSOLUTELY right when he wrote;" CINDY: I love you dearly, darlin'. But the "I'm not talking about the needy; I'm talking about the BUMS" rationalization is most often used by those who think hunger is when you don't have the good cheese for your post-tennis snack. This is not you, I know. But be very careful when taking that line: It puts you in evil company. Further, it bolsters the unconscious mindset that "needy=bums," or that the numbers of the needy are far outstripped by the bums. And that way lies neglect. And class war. And a whole lot of other baaaaad shit."
There is no flaw in what Alex wrote.
ROB was right when HE wrote:" I’d rather chase down those assholes than make the welfare system more unfair than it already is (as things ARE I happen to know it's making a number of things inaccessible to people who genuinely need help and WANT to get out). With a ratio like this...I don't give a fuck about the 'BUMS'. I mean DEAL with them...but not at the expense of the greater numbers."

Again I'll say it; ALL OF YOU ARE CORRECT AND I DO AGREE! No sarcasm, NO disingenuousness whatsoever. If I tell you I am being sincere I'm not being a wiseass-- I promise you.

You asked how I would fix the problem.

Well, you're going to find problems and abuses in any system but the bigger the entity that oversees it and the more hands between the needy and the funds the less good will come of it. In the best scenario I can imagine you would have private/ nonprofit organizations with each community that would decide what was needed in each area.

The bigger a program gets the worse it gets.

Simplify it by putting it in the hands of local non- profits governed by unpaid boards that would have no ax to grind and no palms to grease. People who are involved in public works for the good and not for the money are usually in a good position to recognize who's respectable and who's a weasel. People who are in the trenches trying to help will know where the greatest need is and could best address how to tend to it.
Some programs currently in existence are working fine but they should be expanded so they are available to everyone every where. Offer training, education, job coaching, job skill strategy, training for interviews, help filling out job applications. Programs should be time limited unless the recipient is truly disabled or handicapped in which case there would be no limitations. Plenty of hands up-- also day care vouchers, college education credits, gasoline vouchers for getting to work or searching for work. HUD housing should be continued but only with local governance. Those who give the money should be able to look into the eyes of those who need it--they should offer free sterilization to anyone who wants it-- ON DEMAND. Drug and alchohol treatment also on demand and free should be required for abusers who want to participate in other programs. The creed should be We'll support you while you're in treatment, we'll pay for your treatment then we'll help you find a job and learn to take care of yourself. Support would be an integral part of my program.

Programs should be time limited unless in the case of those who are truly disabled or handicapped in which case no time limit should be imposed. CUT THROUGH THE RED TAPE BULLSHIT-- An individual with a chronic severe mental illness that impedes his abilty to work should be immediately hooked up with social security disability. A twenty page report that he is congnitively imparied shouldn't be necessary, only a doctor's statement. Likewise, if somebody rolls in in a wheelchair with an oxygen canister it shouldn't take the program administrators six months to get the needed funds to the desperate individual.
Same with HUD housing.. nobody should have to fill out six forms and have a colonoscopy to get HUD housing if they are single with two or three kids and a minimum wage job with limited hours.
The big key would be local control over money that could be awarded on a grant basis to individual not-for-profit groups in each community. George W. used "faith based" groups for his plan and that was lame terminology. It should have been "non-profit citizen boards" the word "faith" shouldn't be any part of the program as it would exclude a whole group of caring non- believers who could adequately do the job at the same time as they plunge headlong toward hell on a luge..KIDDING KIDDING!!!!!!! Just wantin' to see if y'all are still with me here.

The answer to the abuse of the system question is simple too, I think. When you offer healthy people a way out if they don't take it... the job skills courses, college credits, job hunting, day care, gasoline vouchers etc.. if they don't follow through on anything then it's safe to assume they're indigent due to a lack of desire. If they are people who just want to soak the system then they won't take advantage-- because they don't want to work. Even if you have a parent that doesn't want to work you would still have the community food bank and homeless shelters to fall back on. The government shouldn't hand money to people except on a very limited basis.

I'd also deep six the IRS and go to a straight 10%purchase tax. Those making under a certain amount would be granted exemptions on certain items, food, diapers, formula etc. The funds no longer going to float the IRS be funnelled into the local relief chapters I described.

Farmers should no longer be paid NOT to grow crops. They should grow what is most needed and the government could pay them for what they produce with the food going directly into the hands of the hungry. I said it before--the government cheese, rice, honey, powdered milk and butter kept me and my babies from going under. Sometimes a little food is all that is needed.

What's my grade?


Frank Church
- Friday, October 24 2003 12:56:3

Scott, I am being honest when I say you should try to get publised. I get a kick out of your writing. You really have a good sense of humor. The Canadian school system must be littered with pride. Now go find a typewriter and write the book of the year. You were right about welfare.


Deb, I Spit On Your Grave was made to display rape as a form of entertainment, while other films make rape to look ugly and immoral. Castro mentioned Last Exit To Brooklyn, where Jennifer Jason Lee (a real trooper) is raped by at least a hundred men. But the scene is brutal and sad. I sat in stunned silence after the film. There was art in that film. The other films are just sick and hateful.

I am afraid to see Irreversible, mainly because head trauma grosses me out. I heard there is a scene where a man's head is smashed to bits. For some reason, head trauma makes me sick. I will see it some day. Maybe with my eyes closed.


Rob, please, no head trauma jokes. Yokel.


"First point--from a veteran of grindhouses, God how I miss em--is that, the more intense the movie, the more young hormonal males will say and do almost anything to make it appear that the scene doesn't really affect them. If they laugh, it's not necessarily a real laugh. If they adopt some anti-social point of view--"Get her! Kill!"--it's always at a time when the action on the screen is genuinely upsetting and they want everyone to think they're badasses who can make jokes even during the scary parts. It doesn't mean any more than ghetto murder slang--"I'm gonna kill that mofo"--or the cheering that sometimes occurs when Jason slices up a teenager in a particularly imaginative way. The cheer is a form of nervous laughter, not identification with the killer."

--Joe Bob Briggs

Stupid huh?

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Friday, October 24 2003 12:33:22

Dan Thorne mentioned

I saw that item yesterday. Funny, especially because it's true. I had an even funnier thought as well.

As you know, the dialogue in Gibson's film is entirely in Aramaic and Latin, for "authenticity." I'd sort of hoped he'd have done it in Quenya, or High-Elven-- it would've given that "INRI" sign a nice Art Nouveau delicacy.

- Friday, October 24 2003 12:7:39


I want to post script sort of a concession to Cindy - not for my counter in response to what I perceived was sarcasm (which really ticked me off, honestly; and I'd like to find out if I took her the wrong way) - because I DO believe she's disregarding some important points and I think my question is valid - but for one or two digressions in my last post to her that probably WERE too heavy-handed (e.g., "this is a quiz"). I didn't scroll back to look at it till just now; I had no problem with its wording...till the end.

T'was late. I wuz tired. And I got mad. That's the way I tend to talk under those conditions. It's PROBABLY the reason I used to have domestic quarrels with my girlfriend. You're doin' fine till you add that ONE word or LINE...and then the atomic bomb goes off.

(I do NOT, however, retract what I told Rich. No, that stays.)

Dan Thorne
Royal Oak, MI - Friday, October 24 2003 10:47:10

And in more Savior-related news...


Do you think He was trying to send a message? *smirk*

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Friday, October 24 2003 10:8:42

Dialog with the Savior
Hey I was just lucky enough to get an interview with Jesus to clear up some of our discussion points.

Steve Dooner: Are you for welfare, Jesus? Do you favor the wealthy or the poor?

Jesus: Oh, the poor are a bunch of whiny fakers. I hang out with publicans and pontiffs. There's this Roman, Pontius Pilate, he and I are tight. Look ya gotta "render unto Caesar," if you know what I mean.

Steve Dooner: But weren't you killed by Pilate?

Jesus: SHHHHHHH. Don't let that out. You see most of my followers don't know I was killed by Romans and that crucifixion is a Roman form of execution. My religion was a hit in Rome, you see, so we had to soften all the Republican/Gentile-bashing. So we blamed those poor Judeans for my death, and now Christianity is the religion of rich folk. We're even pro-death penalty now.

Steve Dooner: But we'ren't you killed by a Roman Death Penalty?

Jesus: Yeah, but I got better. Look, the death penalty is good. All those indigent rats on death row in Texas, for instance, deserve their punishment. And if they don't, well the system works as a whole to get the bad guys. If a few innocents fall through the cracks. . .well, "ya pays your money, ya takes your chances."

Steve Dooner: That really surprises me? I always thought of you as a pro-poor liberal? You know, Rabbbi Yeshua, the guy who tried to help the poor of Judea. You seemed to be a follower of Hillel and the great Pharisaic tradition.

Jesus: Look, nobody knows any guy named Yeshua anymore. As far as I'm concerned, I've got a nice, gentile Greek name: Jesus. That liberal Jesus stuff is all a lot of 60's hippy nonsense created by people who saw Godspell too many times. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. You really can't have enough swords, you know. Keeps everything in order. Order's what it's all about. You need strong leaders and wealthy people in an orderly society. Wealth will trickle down to the poor eventually. And believe me: "The poor will always be with us," but a good data entry worker can make an honest buck. See, I was really misquoted. It should be, "The First wil be First, and the Last will be Last because they're lazy."

Steve Dooner: Oh, I see. One last thing. That Reverend Fred Phelps is using your religion to say Mathew Shephard is damned to hell. What do you think of that?

Jesus: Well, some people were suspicious of me 'cause I was a Greek-type philosopher who used to hang around with 12 guys. They also wondered why I once advocated castration: "There are those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven," and why so many of my male followers abjured female company and castrated themselves for purity. Let's leave all that nonsense in the past. All I've got say is I'm about good clean honest American living. Nuff said.

Steve Dooner: Thanks, Jesus, for sparing some of your valuable time.

Jesus: Sure, vote Bush/Cheney!

- Friday, October 24 2003 10:7:57


"meaning just when Rob was making sense, he starts in on Cindy to "PROVE him wrong"."

...with YOU, in turn, butting in and misguiding the scrap and its truly "PROFOUND", ass-shakin' undercurrents. YOU, completely off base, trying to make me look like I’m amblin' the fringes of eye-twitchin' neurotic incoherence. Yeah, you're always waiting there to yank the old mattress a few feet whenever I leaps from the window. Welcome back to the good ol' days.

Now how did I always end this sort of thing? Oh, yeah...shut the fuck up, Rich!

(Listen, follow just a bit of my reasoning here. The question I puts to Cindy is perfectly sound and innocent. Well, relatively; it was late and was tired. I was up till 4a.m. twice this week. I simply wants to know what solutions she would propose to deal with her big priority...welfare fraud. Unless I missed something - and I'm not denying the possibility - I don't think it's even fraud she's griping about. It's people - some of whom are quite brain dead - continuing on benefits without making the effort to get off them. As I suggested before there ARE reform measures to deal with that. Reckless cutting isn't among them. I'd like to know - if, gosh, this might be OK with YOU, Rich - how Cindy feels it should be resolved. And since you were rather vague, Rich, about what I was "wrong" about I'll assume you meant my Republican comment among other things. Well, having seen it first hand over the years I can tell you I'm RIGHT about THAT: anytime fiscal control was placed in the hands of a Republican official, services were reduced or removed entirely. If Cindy feels voting Republican is the answer to this problem, then, obviously, she thinks cuts are the answer no matter what we've argued. Well...given what I perceived as a sarcastic response - "you're right! ALL of you" - which is what got me going here, I chose to challenge her on it a little more. Is that ok with YOU, Rich? Maybe from now on I oughtta seek your approval before I take Cindy to task on her comment.)

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Friday, October 24 2003 10:6:53

Scott Reeston--

All apologies. You're right; I should have named names, as you say. I wasn't trying to be coy, though. I'd been trying to follow the welfare arguments, and I kept getting distracted by that minor conversational idiosyncracy. So I wrote the post, knowing damn well I do the same thing myself.

It wasn't, at all, an attempt to undermine your points.

(And if I was really going after condescension, I'd go after Rob's attack on Cindy. Why do I get the feeling this parenthetical aside will get me into trouble?)

As far as the welfare issue goes, well, I don't know enough about it to comment. I should. And I don't. Except that I share, with the rest of you, the hope that perhaps someday we can balance meeting social needs with encouraging self-reliance. However unlikely that idea is.

Scott Reeston
- Friday, October 24 2003 9:36:55

Jon: The laugh came in handy. Mel and the kids (Ooops, John K? No condescension, mon ami!) showed up for my lunch and read your post.

"Oh, god! Not Cynthia. Please, not Cynthia..."; said Mel.

Nice little pre-birthday party for myself and the eldest child. I got the signed copy of "Vic and Blood" I wanted, but was denied the right to order a few months ago; very, very nice. Not to insult the quality of the Corben artwork, but youngest daughter wanted to know why the nice dog on the dust jacket had to fight the angry tree. Danielle loves my gift: a signed copy of "The Essential Ellison"; our mutual thanks and congratulations to the parton author for his efforts in both.

Mel also brought the "Intégral Accordéon" Edith Piaf collection I'd ordered. Those who've purchased it are truly in for a treat. I put one of the discs on the P.A. here at work, and just sat back and listened. Froze a number of people watching a hockey practice dead in their tracks, staring at the speakers. Wondered what was happening to their minds, suddenly ejected out of their safe little Toby Keith, Faith Hill, Britney and N'Sync musical worlds, forced to comprehend a place of true musical majesty. I kept waiting for that pristine moment when their cranial caps would collapse, imploding from their psyche's complete inability to embrace the fullness of Piaf's tones. Just something in Piaf that's so assertive, so commanding.

Life rarely gets better, mon amis.


- Friday, October 24 2003 7:32:13

Thank you, guys. Contact with Fowler made.


- Friday, October 24 2003 5:56:53

I just knew that the Rob that got to the "crux of the biscuit" would be replaced by the Rob that wants to beat Cindy with that dead welfare horse; meaning just when Rob was making sense, he starts in on Cindy to "PROVE him wrong". Yeeeesh.

Still wearing Lee's silk pajamas,

Jon Stover
Canada - Friday, October 24 2003 3:17:29

Scott: I'd look out when posting these reminiscences, you know -- you'll be damned to being a CBC telemovie before you know it. And one of the Dale sisters will play Mel. ONE OF THE DALE SISTERS WILL PLAY MEL! Stop before it's too late.

Sorry for the Canadian sub-referencing, folks. To keep the bleeding down, I wrote a pithy bit about welfare and then deleted it.

Cheers, Jon

- Thursday, October 23 2003 23:8:58

Cindy on welfare?

"I AGREE WITH YOU ALL!! Y'all are correct. Every one of you.
I'm not being a smartass. I mean it."

Weeeeel...that sounded pretty disingenuous to ME.

Your use of the word BUM ain't the problem. How COULD it be? There ARE some bums at the welfare office. It just doesn't happen to be stewing in bums.

I'm curious about whether or not you really GOT what some of us were arguing. It wasn't some issue of political correctness; that if you hadn't used the word BUM everything would have been cool.

Lemme put it this way: What do YOU think should be implemented to solve the problem? Your answer would pretty much reveal the extent of your knowledge on the issue. Thaaat's right...you're being quizzed.

I'LL tell you this much: if you vote for a Republican to handle it (THAT'S right. We're getting political now)...things get FAR worse for those in genuine need. And if you THINK voting that way holds the solution...then clearly you know nothing about the issue. And I don't think you're even considering how far off your judgement may be. I want you to PROVE me wrong.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Thursday, October 23 2003 22:25:48

Edge in My Voice Audio

BILL GAUTHIER: I got both sets. I just finished listening to "S.R.O.," and yes, I was utterly moved by the "Jefty" reading. That's always been my favorite Ellison story anyway, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to be able to hear Harlan read it.

MARK WALSH: When are we going to watch that "Gargantuas" tape? You know, I truly feel for Russ Tamblyn in that movie. He's trying his best to get through a terrible script. It's great inadvertant comedy. And yes, I too was terrified by the eating of the girl--truly gruesome, never forgot it.

Steve Dooner

Andrew Rogers <drew71@hotmail.com>
San Diego, CA - Thursday, October 23 2003 22:19:51

RE: Fowler

As per Alejandro's earlier post, here's the info from The Creative Partnership (direct from their website, all lowercase is theirs):

The Creative Partnership
13 Bateman Street

tel: 020 7439 7762
fax: 020 7437 1467

for the account handlers:
adam lennard adaml@thecreativepartnership.co.uk
pete anderson petea@thecreativepartnership.co.uk

managing director:
jim sturgeon sallyc@thecreativepartnership.co.uk

I hope that this is useful to you.


Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Thursday, October 23 2003 22:5:12


The most universally accepted valuation of any marketed item is return on investment: net sales against production cost. Producers can screw up in two distinct ways: they can develop or buy rights to unmarketable CRAP that won’t sell, or they can fail to produce or properly market STUFF that would sell. Producers that avoid these errors stay in business and everybody else goes bankrupt.

Arguments about relative degrees of crapiness based on other concepts, i.e. whether something is relevant, coherent, well-crafted or engaging; whether it gives elegant treatment to universal themes; or is capable of improving lives or enlarging horizons; these arguments are going to founder in an absolute tarpit of subjectivity.

A good closing quote comes from Tchaikovsky, who was occasionally criticized for composing crap – in this case it was ballet music, at the time seen as the ignoble step-child of ‘serious music’. When asked why he did it, he said ‘I always wanted to try my hand at it, and also, I needed the money.’ The score that was so heaviliy scorned by the musical cogniscenti of the day was ‘Swan Lake’, which has stood the test of time rather well in spite of his base motivations for composing it.

Alejandro Riera
chicago, il - Thursday, October 23 2003 21:44:8


Christopher Fowler owns a film production agency in Soho called "The Creative Partnership". I tried to download their website but unfortunately I do not have Flash installed in my computer and you can only access the site with that program. Fowler has also a website (www.christopherfowler.co.uk) but alas there is not much contact information there. Your best bet is calling his film company if someone in this board can access the website and provide you with their number.


PS; And if no one has yet read Mr. Fowler's work I beseech you to do so. Talk about a unique, smart voice in the field of horrow today. "Sparky" is a riot and quite disturbing and his stories in "Personal Demons" are just perfect jewels waiting to be turned into magnificent novels.

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Thursday, October 23 2003 19:24:7

Rape In Film

I don't defend the specific movies you cited, but your point struck me as confused. Is it your stance that any film which depicts a rape, even as a horrific experience, is by itself misogynistic? Is it not possible to depict such a thing, from the perspective that such things do happen, and do so without the intent to appeal to prurient interest?

I am thinking of the horrific last scene of LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN, but no doubt there are others. --ATC

Scott Reeston
- Thursday, October 23 2003 19:23:37

Sorry Rick, For Second Post:

John K:

No apologies for condescending terms, (except to Jon Stover and Cindy, with my thanks to both, also all those who will think about what I've said and see my point) that's what I often do when I'm ticked off at the arguments over a problem concerning people being reduced to quotation of statistics or a ping pong match of ideological rhetoric that resolves nothing, especially when this same argument has been waging since these programs' introduction. We're friends here, John (Well, people are still spreading rumours that I'm one of theirs, although I do everything in my power to disavow them), so let's name names when possible, okay?

As to the programs, all that matters is that they don't work. Either chuck 'em or fix them.

Personally, I support the former, hoping that the situation will finally force to the fore a necessary animus between the haves and have nots. Societies are never more progressive than within periods of complete instability.


- Thursday, October 23 2003 18:39:55


I am needful of getting in touch ASAP with the English novelist CHRISTOPHER FOWLER (he of ROOFWORLD, et al). He lives in the U.K. somewhere, but I don't know where. I need, at least, a phone number. Address would be fine, too; but I need to speak to him one-on-one, so phone number would be splendid. Any help will be appreciated.


Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Thursday, October 23 2003 18:31:4

Steve Dooner,

Just noticed the comment about the Amazon review. Which "Voices from the Edge" did you get? "I Have No Mouth..." or "Midnight..."? The one that made me tear up as I drove from New Hampshire in May 2002 was Harlan's reading "Jeffty Is Five." Something I'll never forget: seeing him read "Goodbye To All That" at MIT in 2001. If I can read even a tiny bit as well as he does in public, I'll be happy.


TEXAS - Thursday, October 23 2003 18:12:45


That is the LAST time I make fun of those who would abuse the welfare system. I won't call them "BUMS" ever again-- I'll call them "the entrepreneurial psuedo-disabled" or "those among us who devote their lives to keeping up appearances for serious federal funding". The last backhanded smartass (dumbass) remark I make at the expense of the "fauxgimps for funding" brigade is the one I made in my original diatribe which was written with nothing more in mind than imparting the importance of boring your children to distraction when they ask questions that make you fidget.

REALLY-- the last time.

Any of y'all who have not seen my original post regarding the "terminally shackled to the sharade of artificial disability" are urged to scroll back and find it.

I made a dumb statement using a word that sent you all off on a quest to clarify the importance and need for welfare-- I AGREE WITH YOU ALL!! Y'all are correct. Every one of you.
I'm not being a smartass. I mean it.

I love you too, Alex Jay and you are right about all of that. I am sincere about it.

Now, Scotty,
Once again I was reminded what sort of human being you are. I am truly delighted that you found Mel because she is sweet and kind and supportive enough to deserve you. May the weight of every difficult and unselfish thing you did to care for your siblings and every hurt you suffered because you were required to be a true man before you were even a good sized boy come rolling back to you in blessings forever.

This I pray,


John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids , MI - Thursday, October 23 2003 17:1:33

A tiny point: people on this forum use words like "folks," "kids," "gang," etc. all the damn time! I'm not excluding myself.

Why do we do this? Perhaps to remind the reader that she's being addressed? You'd think that much was obvious.

Worst are "kids" and "boys and girls," I think. Those phrases seem so condescending. I'd much prefer something even more bluntly superior, like "who's your daddy?" or "I'm the motherfucking teacher here, and it's time for schooling."

- Thursday, October 23 2003 16:42:12

Hate Films
You know, come to think of it, Clint Eastwood must have really, really hated Sondra Locke since quite a few of his movies involve her being brutalized in one way or another. Anyone else notice the lead actresses who AREN'T her LOOK like her? Like Unforgiven in which the whore is cut up laughing at a john's wanker. Creepy.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Thursday, October 23 2003 16:25:35

My comments on Irreversible from the archives (with spelling errors intact):
Saw Irreversable at our favorite Scottsdale theater-of-movies-not-to-be-viewed-by-Joe-Camper.

It sucked.

It wasn't due to the two controversial scenes, one of excessive violence and another 10-minute anal rape of the soon-to-be darling of the upcoming Matrix sequel. That's not why it sucked, even though two couples walked out on the movie midway.

No, it sucked because it chose to mimic Memento (and yes, yes, many other stories and films and teevee shows that have attempted the same) with backward storytelling....for no purpose. An occasional "Time destroys all" quote here, a tossed-off comment on the future there. In reality, it was 90-minutes of 'plot' that would fit into a 10 page screenplay. Add in 80 minutes of woozy camera work and one final shot that is the only good thing about this movie to me, and you have a major waste of time.

Memento was about something. Memory; how it is important to one's sanity, how it shouldn't be and how it cannot be trusted. It used it's backwards style to follow this theme. Irreversable uses the backwards style to simply toss some style around with the waste of the time wasting minutes.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the film Gerry and how interminably dull it could be; inducing yawns while intriguing at the same time. Irreversable has stuff happening, and yet my yawns were less than intrigued.

Mysogonistic. Violent. That's not why I would walk out on Irreversable next time. Scooby Doo 2 playing in the theater next door? For that, I would walk out on Irreversable next time. Gerry in slow motion? Yes, even for that!

Irreversable: the only legitimate French product well worth boycotting.


Jon Stover
Canada - Thursday, October 23 2003 15:37:46

Not much I'd want to add here, especially after Scott's piece, but I was going to suggest Cindy give Orwell's _The Road to Wigan Pier_ and _Down and Out in Paris and London_ looks.

Cheers, Jon

David Loftus <dloft59@earthink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Thursday, October 23 2003 15:22:14


I didn't take the opportunity to see "Irreversible" when it played in the theater two blocks from my home. But the comments here made me check out several of the reviews linked from the Internet Movie Database. Ebert's was ambivalently laudatory, Edelstein's very negative. Interesting . . . .

Scott Reeston
- Thursday, October 23 2003 15:21:31

I've been sitting silent on the issue of welfare for a while, and reading all the comments that everyone has said has left me smiling.

I was raised on welfare, well actually, that's not quite true. My family received welfare, but mater and pater spent the month's stipend on drugs and booze, leaving myself and my three younger siblings to fend for ourselves. We survived as best we could. One would be surprised how soon a child can learn to steal (I was boosting at the age of five), or find some large or small scam with which to relieve a passerby of some or all of their money. By eleven, I was stealing cars; by twelve, I was good at it.

Bit of a aside, recalling someone's comments here about being surprised at Vic from "A Boy and His Dog" being just fifteen. Based on my own experiences of youth, I always took him to be twelve or thirteen. And, I'd always wondered if the kids from "Memos from Purgatory" were the basis for Vic. Perception forms one's reality, I guess. But, I digress.

Our tenements were often a four room flat on the north side of Rue Sherbrooke, occasional water, mostly hot and cold running rats. I became rather expert at their extermination, what with their propensity to attack my little brothers and sister. I can recall almost incessant moving, my parents' habits quickly exhausting one after another landlord's patience with failure to make the rent. By nine, I could recall attending more different schools than the changes I could make in my daily dress.

Horrors, you say. What of the social workers, the system to protect children? As underfunded and overworked as the welfare system itself. In my instance, the only times I came into contact with Children's Services is when I ran afoul of the law. I learned quickly: my pleadings about abuse and hunger would go largely ignored by police, teachers, adults of all walks of life, but the moment I stole or did damage to someone or something, they would throw a caseworker and probation officer at me. I'd get some parcels from the Salvation Army for my little brothers and sister (I'd create hiding places for our food, keeping the stuffs safe from the vermin, both rat and parent kind. That way, I knew my siblings would eat.) All I had to do was show up for a few probation appointments, spray some well placed bullshit about pulling myself up by my own bootstraps (I'd smile at the phrase when looking at the holes in my shoes) at some overworked desk cop, and I was carte blanche to return to what I wanted. When the cars to steal weren't making themselves available, it made for a pretty good fall-back plan.

Long story short, the point I make is this: Virtues and ethos are bought and paid for by affluence, little more. Wealth and success allow us the self aggrandizement displayed in our tossing of a few measely crumbs off the economic table. I look at the 150+ other nations across the world, and how their poverty stricken get along, sans any form of social safety net. That would be most of those who frequent the site here, should the great machine that creates economic benefit for our society grind to a halt. How great would any of our charity be to the least fortunate then? Conversely, how strong would our ethos reign in confronting survival?

The system is rife with larceny, boys and girls. I'm not referring to the "Corvette Lady" or other parasites that can infest the system. I'm talking about so many of those who find themselves at the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder, who simply cannot make that small stipend work for the thirty day interval. Think about all that you and I rely on to exist, and then write a list of the cost of these items. Once you have the list totalled, call your local welfare office and find out how much an recipient would get for the month, and compare. Then, try to figure out how one survives.

They all steal and scam, the same way every one of you, should you be forced to live under those circumstances, would. It's necessity, folks, plain and simple.

No nice way to say it, but then, it sure as shit was no nice way to live.

Enjoy your dinner, folks.


- Thursday, October 23 2003 14:50:46

I saw "Irreversible" last week. It is the single most disturbing film I have ever seen. The images of violence, rape and murder haunted me all week. The movie ruined the day following it's viewing. It put me in a glum, fatalistic mood about our species. For that reason it may be a "good" thing. In a strange way I'm kind of glad I witnessed it, but will never watch it again. And I cannot recommend it to anyone. The rape scene is horrible, but the murder scene that precedes it borders on "snuff" territory.

It's funny. I also saw the Texas Chainsaw remake and "Kill Bill" in the days that followed. They were Hollywood fabrications in comparison ---obviously fantasyland. And I probably would've enjoyed the Tarantino more if I hadn't recently watched "Irreversible."

AZ - Thursday, October 23 2003 13:54:10

Rape in movies=Woman Hate
***Come on people!! You talk about Last House on The Left and I Spit on Your Grave as showing a hatred of women. Please name me a film with a rape scene in it that equals woman love! These are explotation films. Nothing more. And in the end the woman ( or family as in Last House ) gets their revenge. A film that you MUST question WHY it was made, is IRREVERSIBLE by Gaspar Noe. This film makes the rapes in the two movies above look like made for Disney kid movies. IRREVERSIBLE is extremely hard to sit through. And if you can, it will stay with you in a not so nice way for a long long time. Maybe that is the point of it--I don't know. But that is a movie to rant about. The other two are child's play. But I guess no one has seen the foreign film and the other two were horror staples in my youth--along with Texas Chainsaw and Friday the 13th. But they all FEEL like fiction. IRREVERSIBLE does not.

Mike Jacka
Phoenix, AZ - Thursday, October 23 2003 13:47:17

Welfare, Fraud, and Ethics
I think Rob has gotten to the crux of this biscuit. The root of frustration with welfare is the perceived fraud in the system, whether that is actual fraud or the perceived fraud of healthy individuals living of our “donations”. But, fraud happens everywhere, and welfare fraud will happen. (I’m guessing we all have our anecdotal instances that would support this. Mine’s almost a cliché – a tall, leggy blond gets out of a Corvette convertible at the mini-mart and purchases a pack of gum with food stamps. Honest, I saw it happen.)

So, to single out the scams and problems with welfare may not be the best discussion about what welfare changes are needed. And, again, Rob is right – larger, more significant fraud occurs outside the welfare process – fraud that significantly impacts all of us. And this is not the mega-frauds like Enron and friends - it is the little things that add up.

(Why I know this – I work in the internal auditing department of a large insurance company and received the Certified Fraud Examiner designation. Okay, it just means I passed a test and did the work for a few years [and don’t get me started on what a piece of crap the CPA designation is], but they are my credentials nonetheless.)

You can’t get hard numbers on fraud because it is, by nature, hidden. But, for the insurance industry, it is estimated that we lose approximately 80 billion dollars to fraud. Research shows one of four people say it is okay to defraud insurance companies. Auto claims fraud adds 5- 6 billion dollars to auto premiums. I’m spending my day today putting together a prosecution referral file on a secretary who took $15,000 in six months. Next week I complete the one where the secretary took $30,000.

I think what pisses us off about welfare fraud is that people are getting something for nothing, and they are taking the money away from those who need it. Well that’s true of all fraud, and you should be pissed off about that, too. If one in four people inflate their claims, the other three have to bear the cost.

Look, I’m not trying to defend insurance companies here – believe me, they have their problems - I’m an auditor - I know. But it is the thing I happen to know. And what it all comes down to is a nasty little word that a lot of people don’t think about any more – ethics. Justification and a desire to “beat the system” are leading more and more people down the path of situational ethics, and it is costing us all. Isn’t it really ethics that is at the root of why Harlan has to sue AOL?

I don’t know how you improve everyone’s ethical compass. But I do know you can’t throw out a system just because there is some abuse – if you did, every system would be thrown away.

Frank Church
- Thursday, October 23 2003 13:37:36

Rob, so, you do not have guilty pleasures? Fess up, you just adore splosh videos.


More favorites of horror: The Haunting, Lair Of The White Worm, Re-animator, The Shining, Carrie, Bride Of Frankenstein, Pet Semetary, Return Of The Living Dead, The Exorcist, Susperia, Freaks, Duel, Hatchet For A Honeymoon, Basket Case, Halloween, Psycho, The Birds, Rosemary's Baby, Amityville Horror, Nightmare On Elm Street, The Brood, The Fly...


Reason's to hate Roeper:

"Got a lot of holiday spirit, and a lot of laughs."

-- Roeper on Adam Sandler's awful and crass cartoon, Eight Crazy Nights.

"There's a lot of problems with the script, it's not funny, and it kind of falls flat. But Clooney and Zeta-Jones deliver enough to say it is worth seeing."

--His confused "thumbs up" for Intolerable Cruelty.

"It's beautifully written, but it feels so written."

--His stupid take on another film. He is related to Bush--has to be.

"The actors rise above the material, and make it worth seeing."

--No, moron, actors never RISE above bad writing. This is a "thumbs up" for the universally panned, Battle Of Shaker Heights.

"I found it fascinating."

--Roeper's worst review ever, on the sick, and crass documentary about drunk college kids called The Real Cancun. He deserves this MTV garbage.

"A dazzling Mess"

--Another confused good review for the hated film, The Life Of David Gale.

"A real dopey film"

--That is saying something. Ha, ha.

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Thursday, October 23 2003 11:18:10

HARLAN: Regarding your assessment of Ebert's TV padner: Right-on! He's a mewling cad. And he's also the tip of the iceburg regarding the new crop of film critics. In Boston we had a fairly reliable critic named Jay Carr who wrote for the Globe; after his retirement he was replaced with a critic named Ty Burr who is cut from the Roeper cloth. I mean, these guys have convinced themselves that there's quality in an Adam Sandler movie. What they need is an Ellisonian enema!

FOLKS: Quite a few of you have been posting messages on the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre and movies of that ilk. I'd like to shift the focus a little bit and briefly sing the praises of one of my all-time favorite schlocky Japanese monster movies. A few weeks ago, a buddy from work let me borrow his VHS copy of "War of the Gargantuas" and I've been holding out on watching it until Halloween rolls around. I saw this movie for the first time when I was about five years old and it FREAKED ME OUT. Especially the scene where the Green Gargantua eats the lady at the airport.

So, we've been trading favorite slasher films, but what about your favorite Japanese monster movies?


Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Thursday, October 23 2003 10:10:3

CINDY: Welfare is immunization programs at Beacon schools in the inner city. Under the Head Start program, these programs immunize not just the students but the families as well.

Welfare is food stamps, which my family was on in the 1970s. We were not proud about using them, but we were glad to have them when my father, a very hard-working union carpenter, was unemployed due to a construction shortage.

Welfare is aid to disbled chilren.

Welfare is medicaid, which is crucial in a system that does not provide universal health care.

Welfare is hot breakfasts and hot lunches for children in city's and poor rural areas.

Welfare is assisted housing for single mothers, and for families who might otherwise be homeless.

Welfare is assisted housing for people who work hard but have emotional problems or limited IQ's and want to feel some personal dignity. Some of these people will NEVER pull down a high tech data entry job and they cannot possibly live on the minimal wages we pay them.

Welfare is not having polio or measles or starving people.

What I have listed are just some of the services that account for 80% of Welfare spending. AFDC is not part of the programs mentioned above.

Your complaint about AFDC, which is based on assumption and anecdotal information, is not a fair assessment of the program. If AFDC does lead some people into a dependency cycle, please realize that recent political reforms on Welfare have addressed this common and overstated concern. The truth is, as Mark Walsh and Rob have said, most of this money is dearly needed. Please consider that your own experiences might be coloring your critical judgement.

Christ said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me." That is Welfare.

Christ also said that those who feed and clothe the poor feed and clothe him. That is Welfare too.

I know you believe in making people independent. So do I. But I'm sure you don't believe in spreading whooping cough or throwing people with limited IQ's out in the cold. When you portray Welfare, or even AFDC, as a waste of taxpayer's money, as a scam invented by Democrats to bilk you out of your dough or as a sinister game played by fakers and confidence men, you do this society and yourself a disservice.


Steve Dooner

EVERYBODY: I just bought Harlan's "Edge in My Voice" audio collection, and I am having the time of my life. I read Bill Gauthier's review on Amazon.com, and I was so glad I followed Bill's advice. These beautifully rendered performances have added so much to my experience of these stories. This is a great way to get to hear these stories anew.

In his ability to bring his characters to life through public reading, Harlan is the Charles Dickens of our age. I mean that.

"He do the police in different voices"

Steve Dooner

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Thursday, October 23 2003 7:10:12

And the welafre situation's going to get worse, gang., Do you know what the strongest predictor of bankruptcy is in this country? No, it's not overspending on Beemers and McMansions. No, it's not the collapse of the dot-com bubble.

It's having children. Specifically, when one parent has been laid off, and the parents try to keep the kid in a decent school district. There's a new book titled "The Two-Income Trap," wherein the authors' studies reveal how much pressure the economy has been putting on families.

Their findings show: while a two-income household has 75 percent more earnings over a single-income family of thirty years ago, they actually spend far less on consumption-- 22 percent less on clothing, 21 percent less on food, etc. They spend more money on things like insurance, mortgages, cars, preschool, college, and all the other support systems of middle-class living.

By and large, the "overconsumption" explanation for the surge in bankruptcies is a complete myth.

Most of this, the authors argue, is due to the deregulation of the credit industries. Things like penalty interest rates (5=five percent to start, twenty-nine percent if you miss a payment) and sub-prime lending rates. In short, people are being driven under-- and yes, to Welfare-- by the large-scale necessities of existence.

Alex Jay Berman <alexjay@earthllink.net>
Philly, - Thursday, October 23 2003 1:56:32


Guess what? It's a red herring.

Abuse it, slap it around, treat it like a drunken sorority girl at a frat party, don't say "Gesundheit" after it sneezes ...

And all of that is STILL a drop in the bucket--and yet that drop in the bucket is touted, shoutedcloutted about as if it were the one single drain on the country's resources. Nup. 65 billion dollars a year? Fine.

Anyone care to hazard a guess as to the size of the 2003 Federal Budget? Anyone? Bueller?

According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the big tote board says ... (drumroll, please)

2,140,000,000,000 dollars.

Bear in mind that that is not the REAL budget figure. No; there are any number of slips and tricks pulled by those who hold the pursestrings to make it look THAT small. I've seen, three times in the last year, the government employees' Thrift Savings Plan (sort of a Federal 401K shorted: Basically, they stop paying into it for a week or two, then have to pay it all up--with interest--after that short period of time. Why do this, when it only costs us money? Because it makes the quarterly budget LOOK better. There are any number of hidden costs "offset," back-dated, "deferred," and basically moved around as if the government were an alcoholic teenager given his first credit cards--LOTS of them, just so the country can come in SEEMINGLY on-budget or close to it. Yes; this is the same financial strategy which characterized Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, et alia. And the government has been doing this for decades. Even the "true weighted costs" figures put out byy OMB abd the Joint Committee on Taxation are low-ball figures--largely because so many balls are being rapidly juggled in the air, it's hard to keep track. Yup. It's a three-card monte game, folks.

Now. All the social programs Steve mentioned (and be WELL advised that he didn't list anywhere near all of them) ... that makes up just a little over three percent of the PUBLICIZED budget; never mind what the REAL thing is.

And yet, politicians and pundits run on this, and run on this, and run WITH it, until we're all left run ragged. Anyone care to explain how a three-percentile problem (and that figure is VERY misleading as well--for it to be a problem of that magnitude, EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR spent on those programs would have to be misappropriated, mismanaged, and misused) could bring down what these same people keep tellling us is the greatest nation on the planet, which can surmount any obstacle?

The herring is crimson. And, often as not, with blood. Because cuts kill, you know. Go to your old elementary school sometime soon. Ask the principal what happened to all those programs they had there when you were a kid. Then ask yourself if shorting education of our youth is a smart policy. Go to your house of worship. Ask them about how much extra social and charity work has been forced upon them as publicly-funded programs dwindle. Hell; just go OUTSIDE. Look at the world we're making. And ask yourself why we aren't working proactively to make it BETTER.

And then ask yourself where the REAL fiscal abuse is going on.

Take a look at the Congressional Record for a period of a week. Look at all the appropriations bills. Look at where all that money is going. Look at the people who cannot begrudge their portion of the pork to the places where help is really needed. Look at the companies who consistently lobby for tax breaks and trade benefits. And look at their own books--how they maneuver and lobby and even move out of the country to avoid paying their fair share.

Look. And look. And look. Eyes wide, look at all you can, damnit. And then look at the state of things. And look at the blame placed for said state. And then let your mouth speak what you have been seeing.

And don't let your ears be stuffed with the same calliope song.

The MANY calliope songs:
CRIME, we are hammered with. Check the figures for the last twenty years--say, the figures from some organization such as the International Association of Police Chiefs. Oops; crime's actually been steadily going DOWN.
TAXES, we are bludgeoined with. Now take a look at the many resources on comparative tax burdens--say, of the Seventies or Eighties versus today. Oops; down again.
EDUCATION, we are smacked with. Well, Hully gee, Fibber! Looks as if THAT'S been on a downward spiral, too!
Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera. Ad nauseam.

Just LOOK, people.

CINDY: I love you dearly, darlin'. But the "I'm not talking about the needy; I'm talking about the BUMS" rationalization is most often used by those who think hunger is when you don't have the good cheese for your post-tennis snack. This is not you, I know. But be very careful when taking that line: It puts you in evil company. Further, it bolsters the unconscious mindset that "needy=bums," or that the numbers of the needy are far outstripped by the bums. And that way lies neglect. And class war. And a whole lot of other baaaaad shit.

"I truly believe that hunger in America is anecdotal," a not-so-great man once said. Because for him, it was. And by not looking--or, almost as likely, by looking in the wrong direction--he helped trivialize the desperation and hunger in which far too many of our countrymen live.

According to World Hunger Year, 8.5 million people, including 2.9 children, live in households which experience real hunger--skipping meals because they don't have, eating too little in the vain hope of spreading out what they do have, or simply going without becaise there's nothing to go WITH. 24.7 million more, including 9.9 million children, live in households at risk for hunger--eating crap diets or seeking emergency food because that's all they can afford.

Thirty-three million Americans.


But that's okay.
Because it's all anecdotal.

Yes, I've gone on a lot here. Because I am ANGRY. And angrier still that most people are NOT angry.

- Thursday, October 23 2003 1:8:42

Actually, fraud is inevitable in ANY service, to varying degrees. I mean it's just gonna happen. In the case with welfare the frustration is that REDUCING fraud would be relatively simple…not through stupid, harmful cuts (to those who really need it) but through reform. There ARE creative ways policy-makers aren’t even attempting (tying in education more for instance).

Yet, compare the RELATIVE pittance we lose annually in welfare fraud to ongoing white collar crimes (far more shielded depending on who you’re putting in office): last time I looked the annual figure in losses to income tax fraud, bribery, extortion, kickbacks and federal regulation violations was around $165 billion. That’s a far bigger concern to ME. I’d rather chase down those assholes than make the welfare system more unfair than it already is (as things ARE I happen to know it's making a number of things inaccessible to people who genuinely need help and WANT to get out). With a ratio like this...I don't give a fuck about the 'BUMS'. I mean DEAL with them...but not at the expense of the greater numbers.

And Cindy…without my trying to be rotten, cruel, mean, or condescending at ALL…in my opinion you should examine the dimensions of the issue better. In spite of what you said I think you're riding on a stereotype.

And I also think the provocation for my response is residual. You see, because I have a good heart - and, well, I want his money - I've been helping an 82-year-old man with some computer work and I've been driving him around to shop. What I am being subjected to...well, I'll put it this way: my tolerance is truly accumulating - Jeezus, maybe I'm even maturing!

The man's pov seems to be frozen in his thrill days of WWII: he boasted of putting a gun to a black man's head when he was around 21 (whispering to me, like it was somehow relavent, "he wuz black"; they were in the same infantry unit and apparently the guy was about to give away their position with a machine-gun when Japanese were flying overhead); he hates the unions (an issue raised because of the market strike); he thinks Schwarzenegger is the second coming of Reagan; and - man, this was good - he thinks there were NO gays before the 60's. I assured him they were there...but not quite as conspicuous 'bout it as they are today; his reply: "noooo, I don't think anyone was gay".

Well, whether I'm being moral, immoral, or amoral I'm putting up with it and I pretty much keep my big stupid mouth shut, though I doubt I could listen to this stuff if it were more than once or twice a week. I humor him. Now, is that tolerance or is that TOLERANCE.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Wednesday, October 22 2003 22:36:33

Getting In Over My Head

My first thought on welfare is that it’s a topic far too complicated to tussle over in a forum setting. But here’s a facet of the topic worth stirring into the discussion: any population will have a fraction willing to get money that you don’t have to work for, and paradoxically, they will work very hard to get it. Welfare systems are especially doomed to being inefficient and abused, because the watchdogs of the system are guarding tax money - lose a little, and you can always go out and get more.

There were a couple of lawyers buzzing around Cleveland Ballet, telling any dancers that would listen to say this or that to the doctor and they could get us lots of money. Some dancers took relatively minor injuries and bartered them into tens of thousands of dollars of tax money.

Abuse of social welfare, unemployment, worker’s compensation, farm subsidies, corporate tax breaks; and then add in the legal variations on extortion – like Carnegie’s sweetheart deals to get paid for not competing, or modern corporate greenmail. It all turns around approaching the various public doles and corporate war chests as chinese puzzle boxes full of money. Move the right pieces in the right order, or say the right thing and file the right paper, and out pops money!

Gary <gwalren at yahoo>
Boston, MA - Wednesday, October 22 2003 20:52:31

In mild-mannered support of the novel-in-a-month project

I got as far as a bachelor’s degree in music. Looked at in those terms, I might give any ol’ person some sticks and a couple drums and a vibraphone and send him away for a month saying play, playplayplay, minimum two hours every day, play with stuff, and tape-record it all…From the point of view of the enthusiast in me, it’d be fun to listen a little at the end of the month, to what he’d figured out on his own and had fun with. It wouldn’t take long at all before he started repeating himself, stuck into a handful of licks and tricks. If he’s an intelligent, thinking person, I would hope he’d come out with greater enthusiasm and interest in the art, perhaps with a desire to begin more significant instruction/practice, but he would by no means consider himself an accomplished musician. Listening to music after the month, he might even have more appreciation, admiration, and awe for musicians and their product.

Speaking for myself only, I place the value of it in the process, not the product. Yes, I’ve registered in it; I’m going to have at it. I try to be a thinking person, I try to write to myself to hone and explore my thoughts and feelings. And I reckon I still have enough in me that needs a good kneading and working out. Why not just commit to a couple thousand words of journal per day? Fair question. I think the act of externalizing what I’m going through and have recently gone through will be valuable, as a means of gaining perspective. The product, I don’t expect to offer to anybody; I don’t expect to turn out a product worthy of public consumption. I won’t be patting myself on the back at the end of a month, and suddenly thinking of myself as an author, a W*R*I*T*E*R. The guy at the beginning of my post is not automatically a musician at the end of thirty days. I do hope to grease my own wheels and write, a lot, and then continue to write to and for myself, a lot. If my writing hangs together enough to be considered a first draft, perhaps I’ll take a whack at editing it.

Understand, I don't speak for anyone else involved in the project, or assume anything about their motivations.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Wednesday, October 22 2003 20:29:34

Re horror films, and Frank's taste. I wouldn't side with him on either _Dressed to Kill_ or the Friday the 13th films, but he did pick some champions otherwise. George Romero's _Dead_ films have a definitely acute political sensibility operating behind them, even though they're just really fun cartoon violence, too.

But _The Texas Chainsaw Massacre_-- the original, that is-- really seems to be something truly special. The film terrified me long _before_ Leatherface and family showed up, just because it made you understand how _anything_ could happen out in that wilderness... and people could just disappear into hell. Little things add up in that movie, like the watering hole that's dried up, the buzzing of the generators, that ruined house the kids explore before they stumble upon The House, that odd mobile made of smashed watch-faces. It's one of the most dread-filled films I've ever seen.

Can't say a thing in favor of its sequels or remakes, none of which I've seen, and none of which I expect to be any good, mainly because they're playing the "family" for laughs. And so much of the chat about the original on Harry Knowles' site indicates that a lot of his readers just don't get it, either. Frankly, I didn't _enjoy_ watching the girl being terrified out of her mind in the second half of the film. I just wanted her to get the hell out and live.

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Wednesday, October 22 2003 19:18:4

Ebert and Whatthe?
I've always believed that the mark of a good movie critic is not having "accurate" taste, but defending it well. Ebert, and for that matter, our illustrious host, have loathed films I love, and loved films I loathe; but even when the disagreement is total, I've always found food for thought in the actual things being said.

Regarding references to Richard Roeper as "the chimp" -- I read Ebert's reviews regularly, but I must confess that the wonky availability of the TV show in in my area has prevented me from seeing it more than, I think, twice since Gene Siskel died. So forgive me for asking. What's the prob with Roeper?

TEXAS - Wednesday, October 22 2003 15:12:59

I know of some. One guy here in town who is a "cripple" he carries his crutches where ever he goes because he is "disabled" but you can watch him walk up stairs and down stairs, over rough terrain and up and down the aisles at the grocery store--the crutch tips never touch the ground he dangles them from under his arms and walks perfectly fine.

Another such case is one I know personally--the guy was zapped while doing electrical work in a bucket. He burned his underarms severely and was in the hospital for a week or so. Now it's been two years. He can hunt and SNOW SKI, he can put a garden in for his grandparents but somehow he can't work due his serious armpit disability. It seems like he could do something besides put his wife to working 12 hour days while he collects welfare.

I'm not talking about mothers. I've been in THAT boat myself. I wanted only assistance in retaining the services of an attorney to get the child support my ex-husband refused to pay. The stupid woman-(social worker) told me that I should get on ADC and foodstamps. I told her I didn't WANT ADC or foodstamps only an attorney to help me sue my ex-husband for the child support he was not paying-- even though he was making around three hundred thousand dollars a year as a developer- in the same town! Unfortunately his NEW wife worked in the social service department with the THAT woman and I could get no assistance to take him to court. For a while we lived primarily on government cheese, rice, butter, powdered milk and honey which we could pick up once a month in downtown New Castle. It wasn't great but we weren't hungry either. I had three jobs and after taxes, baby sitters and gas I had about 70 bucks per month. I didn't take the ADC or foodstamps because we were making it without it and I felt like there are women out there who couldn't GET a job, or who had children who weren't yet in school--who truly needed the government money. I don't begrudge any mother who needs to stay at home with her little ones. I don't begrudge any mother or father in need period. I have a problem with single or healthy men (or women) who latch on to the government tit because they CAN and not because they must. I was refering to those BUMS-- not the needy.

I didn't think the distinction was so subtle.

- Wednesday, October 22 2003 14:58:43

I had no knowledge of Ebert's stroke or medical condition whatsoever. Needless to say I hope the coming years treat him well. (This might actually be a good time for him to work on his weight)

Frank: "But I do like Dressed To Kill and even the first Friday the 13th. I'm an avid defender of the Evil Dead films"

If you hadn't put your name on it, Frank, I'd have sworn that WAS a Roeper comment. But the reality is even HE knows these flicks were pulled from the coliform-caked sewers of LA. Fuck self-restraint...it HAS to be said: your taste in movies sucks ROYALLY, Frank. When you knock someone - even Roeper - THEN proceed with gibberish even more lame than HE'S capable of...face it, you're setting yourself up. Either THAT or you simply know the buttons to hit. But I ain't given ya no benefit of the doubt.

Frank Church
- Wednesday, October 22 2003 12:58:11

"Ebert and the Chimp." Nah, chimps are cute little buggers, while that thing that strides over thin ice every time he makes another stupid review is more in line with being a weasel with the dropsies.

I still don't understand why Ebert likes Roeper so much. Bet Disney had something to do with it. They want a critic who is easily reliable for instant glowing reviews, even for the more inept film.


Joel, I feel Last House On The Left is pure woman hate. But I do like Dressed To Kill and even the first Friday the 13th. I'm an avid defender of the Evil Dead films and the Dead trilogy. The first Texas Chainsaw is unrelenting horror at its best. I live for gory horror, but with scares, and brains. 28 Days Later, a recent good one.

I also adore Natural Born Killers; think it is a masterwork of the highest order. Oliver Stone uses every trick in the book. He came close to Welles on that one, for sure.

Violence in a film has to make sense. Context is very important, as well. Dawn Of The Dead is wildly gory, but the zombies eating humans made sense, while the rape in I Spit On Your Grave is just hateful and sick.

Kill Bill is violent, but in a comic book sense. The gore is not offensive, like it would be in a more darker film.


"I'm the rattlesnake next to the moral compass."

--Frank Church

Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Wednesday, October 22 2003 12:44:58

I looked into that Novel Writing month (or whatever it's called) thing. It doesn't seem like a bad idea to me. I'm not participating, though. I think anything that makes a person who wants to write do something s/he wouldn't normally do is a good thing.

The bottom line about this quantity vs. quality discussion, to me, is the same as the pen vs. typewriter vs. computer debate. An artist needs to work at the level in which s/he is comfortable. If that means 10 pages a day when you're working on a novel, or 10 pages a year, it shouldn't matter to anyone except the person doing the writing. I've read three of Thomas Harris's novels and loved them. Would it be great if he published a book a year? Yes. But would I love them all? Probably not. Does it matter? Nope. Some people think writing stories in a bookstore window isn't a good idea. I think it's great and it's something I aspire to. Either way, to each his/her own.


John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Wednesday, October 22 2003 10:22:30

It's awful to hear that Roger Ebert is afflicted with physical problems (and afflicted by Roeper as well; the guy's the worst). Ebert's columns and books have been an education for me. In the best sense, he's a teacher. I meant to write him a letter thanking him for that months ago, but blew it off. I think I'll do it tonight.

Aspiring writers could learn a lot, I think, from his smooth, clear prose. I have. I've enjoyed the forum's discussion about writing, particularly Rick's comment that "the main way to get better at writing is to WRITE." Which pretty much says it all.

The most profitable thing anyone ever said to me about my writing came from Diane Baum, a professor I had last year. She smiled at me, and said, in front of the class, "you're a great writer, but you're LAZY!"

Which is, as much as anything else, why I'm almost done with the first draft of my novel. What a gal.

- Wednesday, October 22 2003 9:17:15


STAN THE MAN: Roger Ebert, apart from his current medical rigor for the cancer, did indeed have a stroke. Last year. Pretty serious interlude. The noticeable droop to the right side of his face has been improving; but he came very close. And while attention to my blood pressure level dictates that I can no longer watch EBERT & THE CHIMP AT THE MOVIES, he is an old friend and I wish him ore-cars overflowing with goodwill and longevity. His opposite number I wish ants in the pants, or, as we Juden call'm, shpilkes, which rhymes with "spilled keys."

Which brings me to:

DAVID LOFTUS: The story you're thinking of, which you cannot "find reprinted because it's probably crap" (I've just paraphrased you, but retained the context) is "No Fourth Commandment," which has not only been reprinted a number of times, not only been included in one of my collections, but was butcher-adapted by scenarist Larry Cohen for the tv show ROUTE 66 many years ago under the title "A Little Gift from Mother" -- and subsequently pirated by Cohen and 66 Producer Herbert Leonard, as the plot for their Robert Mitchum/Jan-Michael Vincent movie, GOING HOME (1971). The reason, I suspect, that you couldn't find it in the bibliography of your memory, is that when it was published by one of the Flying Eagle digest mystery magazines--MANHUNT, MANTRAP, MURDER!--it was retitled by the editor as "Wandering Killer." And when I collected it, I used the original title I'd had on the manuscript.

As for "writing crap," well, that's a complex topic, for another time. You'll notice I have assiduously stayed out of this MaMoMeMyFeeFieFoefum writing imbroglio. No fool I.

Yr. pal, Harlan (my middle name is) Crap Ellison

- Wednesday, October 22 2003 9:11:47

Addendum (again)
Rick~ Thank you, sir. As always, with logic and grace, you lay it out. Someday I'll argue with my head instead of my heart (and you folks will all respond, "Who are you and what have you done with the real Lynn?"

Ray~ Thank you. ::blushing::

Justin~ Someone once told me there was something to be learned from reading other people's crap. I believe this only to a limited extent. If it's sapping your will to write, quit doing it. And I honestly believe you have more talent in your little pinkie than most writers do in their entire brains, so you don't need a degree to validate your status as "writer". You only need to do one thing: WRITE.

Here's your hugs ::squeeze::, some milk and cookies, and let's go watch Invader Zim, shall we?


Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Wednesday, October 22 2003 9:4:59

what i'm working on....
Theoretically I've working on revising [if not totally rewriting] a short story about gambling that I wrote back in the spring, and also one based on my post office career, which is more of a practice run at a larger piece. I say theoretically because I've done nothing since I came out here, even though I've had all sorts of time to write. Maybe I will start that sometime today....

David Loftus <dloft59@earthink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Wednesday, October 22 2003 8:12:14

a short blast

Steve Dooner did a pretty good job of running some representative statistics. I will only say that folks who blow off about welfare the way Cindy did tend to be utterly ignorant about the number of people on some form of welfare who are also working full time, as well as the people who bounce repeatedly between gainful employment and welfare, moving in and out of the system on a regular, tiring, dispiriting basis.

Melissa Reeston
- Wednesday, October 22 2003 7:36:26

Brother Can You Spare A Dime?

Might I also suggest that the struggles of the working poor also enter into the discussion? Scott and I have both read the insightful "Nickle and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich. It certainly changed both our perspectives on those who profess that a job, on its own, is better than welfare. Not for the millions of Americans (and Canadians also) who have been shuttled into minimum wage employment by the self-righteous and ill-thought outprograms called "welfare reform", finding in many cases that housing, quality day care and nutritional programs which assist those on welfare are no longer accessible to them, because they are now classed as gainfully employed, although they earn little more than they did on the dole. This makes it far harder for the working poor to find affordable housing, especially in major urban centers in both Canada and the US. Over 50,000 families in Toronto alone wait for affordable housing solutions, with many of those parents having gainful employment, the highest amount it has ever been. The Daily Bread Food Bank reports that its greatest increase in those who access its food basket service are the working poor and the disabled.

My husband uses the analogy of taking the poverty stricken, placing them on the middle of a bridge, blowing up both ends and then tell them: "Go Someplace". No assitance to ensure that they can keep their job, encouragment through financial support for day care or housing to ensure that whatever pittance they have remaining could go to better food, or, god forbid, to be able to go out and see a movie. Horrible to hear tales here of men and women working two, even three jobs in order to pay rent, a process established here when Premiere Mike Harris and his then Housing Minister Tony Clement did away with rent controls, allowing developers and landlords to increase rents in empty apartments to market value rates if they desired. What about the cost to the family unit and the emotional stability it can give to children, a value so treasured and espoused by the conservative politicians? How does one properly raise a child when they are forced into near round-the-clock employment to keep a roof over they and their children's heads?

Love, and some help to all who struggle, Melissa

Mark Walsh
- Wednesday, October 22 2003 5:20:44

Cindy: I disagree with your assessment of Welfare. You’re assuming here that children from Welfare families are conditioned to think that living off government assistance is a way of life. That’s flat out wrong. I was a social worker in my early twenties, and both my father and sister devoted their professional careers to social work and we have never come across a person on Welfare, adult or child, who wanted to be in that position. If anything, growing up on Welfare and having that stigma plastered on a you is incentive enough to bust your hump to get out of that situation, as I witness in many of my community college students.

Likewise, my father, sister nor I have ever met a ‘bum’ who chose to go on assistance. Are there people who abuse the system once they’re on it? No question. But those numbers are much smaller than you’d think. And the government money squandered on corporate welfare schemes is far greater. Welfare is a scourge and blight and a tattoo of shame and when anyone chooses Welfare, they’re making the last, best choice for survival.

M. Walsh

Alex Jay Berman <alexjay@earthlink.net>
Philadelphia, PA - Wednesday, October 22 2003 2:12:49

Personally, I don't like the NaNoWriMo concept. This may well have its roots in the fact that I am a slow writer when it comes to fiction. You want a wry thousand-word column on something? Gimme an hour. You want a good well-researched tech writing piece? Gimme an afternoon.

You want a novel? Gimme a couple of years.

But my dislike for the conceit won't drive me to down others who are trying it. I think that it may well encourage a lot of would-be writers who might be better suited to digging ditches and telemarketing, but there may well be that one diamond in the rough. Who knows?

There seems a surfeit of writers and wouldbes on this forum, so rather than continue bitching at one another about this little Month-Novel thing, why not talk about what you've been writing of late?

Alan Coil
Southeast Michigan, - Tuesday, October 21 2003 22:57:42

Roger Ebert has been undergoing treatment for cancer. He's always had some droop to his lip, but maybe it is much more noticible now. It might have been a really tough week for him and he was just fatigued. Or maybe he's being treated with chemotherapy and that's what is making him look so bad.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
Luna Base 1, Moon - Tuesday, October 21 2003 22:19:15

NCC 1701: Log of the Starship Grip-Yer-Thighs

No blood, no foul. Really, the air has been so thick with thickness the last few days. JohnE sent a weird vibe through the forum. He’s like a deranged Spock on thorazine, dropping gravely slurred demands to "respec’ the writing process" into the laps of a collection of people with enough erudition among them to staff several good sized universities. Then posting and re-posting his comic-book-level thesis statements, like a dog that can't stop retrieving the same slobber covered tennis ball, as though people like Lynn and David L. don’t have enough horsepower to get what he’s saying the first time around.

I was trying to put my two cents in based on my experience as a dancer – which is all I have to offer as I am not now nor will ever be a writer – and the whole ballet girl thing popped out again when you started winking at me. Believe me when I say that I’ve been immune to little barbs like that for at least twenty years, but it just seemed to signal a need to post something as crazy as the current forum atmosphere. Then out pops the getting beat up part, and the Lathrop schoolyard Ellison reference part, and as I’m about to hit send I realize I’m falling into the hands of those who see all references to Ellison as currying his favor or playing for his attention!

So I did what I figured Ellison himself would do in the same situation and hit send anyway. Screw ‘em.


Now that we’re going to be friends and have a normal relationship, can I have my silk pajamas back?

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Tuesday, October 21 2003 21:53:29

it's only a movie....only a movie.....
Anyone who has any kind of hope for the Texas Chainsaw remake while at the same time considers Last House on the Left "pornographically evil" [sounds like something Jimmy Swaggart used to say] apparently knows horror films like George W. knows foreign policy. Last House on the Left, though difficult to watch, is at least somewhat of a classic, or if not that, influential. But I admit I've always been a little puzzled by Ebert's praise of it myself, just because he seems to dislike other films that are similar [like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, which I think may be one of his most hated movies other than CALIGULA and perhaps THE HITCHER.]

And truth is, a lot of the stuff Ebert says about the TCM remake is also true of the original...except the original did more with less. There are some fans today that can't appreciate the original, but I think it's because they equate horror with buckets of gore.

Also can't see how anyone can like KILL BILL but not be able to appreciate other grindhouse staples such as LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT...unless of course that was a way of saying you thought LAST HOUSE was vile in a cool way, in which case I apologize.

As far as welfare goes:
The argument I've always heard from people who complain about welfare isn't so much that the poor people are getting all the money, but more a case of "I work. Why aren't you working?" It's more based on the principle of the thing than on anything logical. Someone who busts their ass at a hard job to support themselves and their family is probably going to be resentful that any amount of their pay is going to help support anyone else. Not saying I necessarily agree with this, but it's the kind of thing I heard a lot of during the last seven or so years when I was punching a time clock at a blue collar job.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Tuesday, October 21 2003 21:4:52

On Welfare

CINDY: Your remarks suggest that you think work is a foreign idea to people on Welfare. Though this comment seems to show little awareness of The 1996-98 Transitional Assistance shift in Welfare spending, I have to share a few quick facts:

-3/4's of Welfare families have at least one adult working full time.

-21% of people on Welfare are working.

-Welfare recipients have three years before they are forced off the Welfare rolls.

-The amount of our budget that goes to Welfare is 8% (The same amount that we hand out in corpoarate subsidies).

-From 1950 to 1980, the amount of people living below the poverty lines was reduced by 2/3's. That means that there are a lot more people buying things in this consumer society today.

-200,000 families are seeking subsidized childcare in California alone (That's a lot of lazy, non-working children out there).

-Perhaps because of their associations with Al Qaeda, the Bush administration was successful in cutting welfare assistance to low income disabled children after September 11th.

-Commonly speaking, welfare does not cover expenses, food and rent for most recipients.

-1/2 of families in homeless shelters had been forced off Welfare rolls in the last 12 months (that'll learn 'em).

-Many mothers are forced onto Welfare because it is nearly impossible to find child care during rotating shifts, night shifts and weekends. You see, in the new economy these are the kinds of jobs poor people can get.

It's really not a simple problem of lazy good-for-nothings taking up all the money. Most of the budget of Welfare is not even AFDC (Aid to families with Dependent Children). Most of the Welfare budget is spent on school breakfasts, school lunches, headstart programs (which include immunizations), medicaid and foodstamps. I'm not sure how the "cycle of dependecy" and "teach them how to work early" arguments works in the face of these expenditures. Monolithic thinking about Welfare perpetuates stereotypes and denies the reality of the situation.

Here are the numbers: 68.5 Billion goes to Medicaid, Head Start, School lunch and food stamps. 22 Billion goes to housing assistance and 27 Billion goes to AFDC. The fact is that most Welfare money is very carefully spent on people, especially children who need it.

There is one persistent faulty conclusion that keeps popping up in this country. When people ask, "Who took all the money?" The common answer today is: "THE POOR! THE POOR HAVE ALL THE MONEY!" Alas, this is a nonsensical conclusion to draw.

Though it sure would be a nice, simple answer--that a few lazy mothers and deadbeats take all our money away--it's really defense spending that cuts into your paycheck. Fight corporate Welfare to Lockheed.

Steve Dooner

Michael <leftearpro@hotmail.com>
- Tuesday, October 21 2003 19:53:27

ROB: Here in Albuquerque, "Salt of the Earth" has long been an art house staple. I must have seen it ten times... and I agree with your sentiments. Truly an AMAZING piece of work.

...and while I still haven't seen "Kill Bill," I did finally catch up to "A Mighty Wind" on DVD and thought it excellent.

Which is just my OPINION, people, and not necessarily an invitation to all the combatants in the house!

And while I finally got my signed copy of VIC AND BLOOD (and truly, Harlan, it is stunning), Casa De Blum is still sadly bereft of Rabbit Hole reading material. Susan? Did I fall off the map?

the rest of you... well, play nice, y'all.

TEXAS - Tuesday, October 21 2003 17:55:34

Awww Frank,
I love it when you're politically correct!!
I could just hug your neck for showing such a warm, compassionate side!

Let me rephrase...welfare by CHOICE is for bums.

Yes, of COURSE welfare is a necessary net for those who are unable to work or for single mothers who don't have a doctor daddy to send them an allowance. But the way things are done now--there is no dignity in welfare. The machine sucks people in and keeps them there, convincing them that they are neither capable nor deserving of better.

I think children should be conditioned to believe that welfare for those who COULD work but WON'T is a shame. Get them conditioned to the notion of personal responsibility while they're young. Teach them that they ARE their brother's keepers and impart to them an understanding that people who are genuinely in need are not to be scorned or pitied but HELPED by THEM when circumstances present them with the power to do so.

There now-- perfect, except for my thanks for calling the boneheadedness of my statement to my attention.

yer pal,

It's been a good day. Florida decided not to murder Mrs.Shaivo.
How strange that murdering innocent victims should be sacrosanct to some who believe that executing murderers a sacrilege.

If they get him up at 6:20 on weekends too he has nothing to look forward to. Give the kid some autonomy and his weekends to sleep late ( at least Saturdays) and see if his altitude doesn't change. It takes a carrot and a stick-- not just the carrot and not just the stick. I'd wonder what happened to my life too if somebody was rousting me every day at 6:20 whether I had a place to be or not.

Sounds like good parents though.


Chris L
- Tuesday, October 21 2003 16:2:33


I think you're right about your mixup. Kill Bill has been getting good reviews - Texas CHainsaw has been getting ripped though it has a couple of mild supporters. If you don't know about it, a quick way to get a taste of the sampling of critical opinion is at rottentomatoes.com - just check out the Tomatometer rating for each film. I think the main thing the Tomatometer shows is just how _un_critical these critics are but I guess you need to say nice things if you want to keep your job. The site adjusts to this somewhat by only rating films which get more than 60% positive reviews as being "fresh." Not that I mean anyone needs to determine their views based on the Tomatometer - it's just a nice source to show what the critics are saying. Kill Bill is at 83%. Texas Chainsaw at 37%. 37% is pretty damned awful when you consider there's that small core of critics who praise everything they write about.

The novel writing contest:

Sometimes I think people feel writing is only about great writing. If you are not destined to be the next Stephen King, you should just chuck it and never write another word the rest of your life.

I'm sure a skilled, motivated writer doesn't need any "tricks" at all like this kind of contest to help him write. She just needs to write.

Folks like me who are mere tyros and have no plans on ever being much more than that might benefit from this sort of external motivations. Writing is hard and I don't love doing it. I occasionally like doing it and every now and then, I have a short burst where I really feel a love for the craft. So that means I'm not a "real" writer - I know that. I'm comfortable with that. I also know I'm probably never going to be a pro bowler but I still practice a lot and make gradual improvements in my game.

Likewise, it's nice to get a little practice in the writing game. If I was really motivated, I wouldn't need any outside help but, well, here's the god's honest truth - I'm not that motivated. There, I said it. Something like this, an outside structure and deadline, helps me greatly. Without an external push, I probably won't write much or at least I am unlikely to finish anything I write. I often start out enthusiastic and then lose interest when I realize it's not nearly as good as it was in my head. Being "forced" to finish helps me a lot.

You wouldn't want to read what I write in all likelihood but so what? It's a hobby for me same as bowling. And that's all I need out of it. I don't pretend to be a pro or an inspiring pro.

- Tuesday, October 21 2003 14:18:11

Lunchtime Serenade

"Ebert has been wrong before"

Well, of course, the question truly plaguing us all is...are YOU ever RIGHT?

ALSO...I have to confess I'm beginning to feel horribly sorry for Chomsky, with you bouncing him on your knee like a mannequin on a daily basis.

Scot Lockman
Burmenham, Alabammy - Tuesday, October 21 2003 13:33:6

Frank - I don't know you, you don't know me, but I've seen the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, and it's a piece of fuck. Save your money; or, if you think of maybe sneaking in to see it, as I did, your time.

And I liked Kill Bill plenty.

Cynical Girl
- Tuesday, October 21 2003 13:21:24

Whew!! Lee!!! Hypnotic indeed, I'm getting dizzy just imagining......... 'scuse me while I get a cold shower!

Frank Church
- Tuesday, October 21 2003 13:3:58

Rob, Ebert has been wrong before. He is the dude who loved the pornographically evil Last House On The Left. I doubt the new Chainsaw is that bad.

I think I got Chainsaw's reviews confused with Kill Bill. You found me out Robbie.

Did you know that Salt Of The Earth is Chomsky's favorite film?


Cindy, your jibe about welfare was beneath you, my dear. Some people need a hand up, some don't. Simple Christian compassion.

Remember, Jesus made Texas as a punishment. Lol.


Michael Moore for President, Al Franken for vice Prez.

Stan The Man <slbcompany@hotmail.com>
Still in Parkdale, Oregon - Tuesday, October 21 2003 12:35:59

Roger Ebert
Well Gang, I am still here in my original hometown, but will be leaving for Oakridge on Friday. I watched Ebert and Roeper last Sunday...did anyone notice the droop in Ebert's face and mouth...did he have a stroke?

AZ - Tuesday, October 21 2003 11:47:36

**Lynn says: " Nothing feels as good as river mud between your toes "
That is a wonderful sentence. That should be a title of a book. What a great feeling it leaves me with for the rest of my day. Please know I am serious!

David Loftus <dloft59@earthink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Tuesday, October 21 2003 10:53:46

the agony of writing

Mr. JohnE appears to be another softie who loves to dish it out but doesn’t want to take it. It’s not clear to me whether he came here looking for huzzahs and strokes or for a fight. If the former, then he has a peculiar way of going about it – rapidly going on the offensive as soon as it appears people are not going to praise his position to the skies; and if the latter, then why “threaten” to turn tail and both disappear from the board and avoid the forums at the first sign of an engagement?

Other folks are taking this pup to task for his comments to and about Lynn, so I’ll confine myself to his response to me only. This morning he wrote:

> David Loftus, who holds out for the possibility that I'm an arrogant
> know-nothing nonwriter type

Like so much else, this is a misreading or mischaracterization. I gave equal weight to two possibilities, one of which John patently ignores. I see him rankly mischaracterizing other people’s comments in a similar manner.

> but who at least argued with me reasonably: I wouldn't even try to
> guess what went through Mr. Ellison's head when he wrote his
> early stories,

You didn’t have to guess; you merely had to pay attention to the references I specified, particularly the recording "An Hour With Harlan Ellison: Loving Reminiscences of the Dying Gasp of the Pulp Era" - although some of that content may also be found in the Harlan Ellison Hornbook.

> but I have a hard time believing he pummelled them out without
> thought towards quality or worthiness. Ask Dorothy Parker.

Again, check my references. I was not talking about the single book on which Ms. Parker passed judgment, Gentleman Junkie, but Ellison’s other writing from the 1950s, much of it published under pseudonyms, most of it probably never republished between the covers of a book. I have a hard-boiled pulp magazine from that era that contains a story in which a tough young juvie is on a mission to kill his detested father. Ellison published that one under his own name, but I’ve never seen it in book form. I can look up the magazine and the title when I get home, if you’re curious. What I’m saying is there are probably dozens, even hundreds, of similar stories that Ellison would never care to offer as examples of his best work, is glad he got out of his system early, but would never say were a colossal waste of time to have written in the first place.

> In any case, what bothers me about NannyMo is its outright encouragement
> of quantity over quality,

It doesn’t “encourage quantity over quality”; merely suggests that it would be stupid for a writer to expect consistent quality when shooting for quantity under such conditions. The goal is to produce SOMETHING, not to produce something instantly publishable, possibly because many would-be writers stifle themselves at the starting gate obsessing about getting it sterling and perfect the minute they step over the line, possibly because many of us require a deadline to get moving. You’re expecting the wrong results from this situation.

> an attitude which I believe does nothing to service the craft and everything
> to encouarage people to think it's all a lark.

As others have noted, probably NONE of the participants in this exercise regard writing as a lark.

I think we can all agree that there are lots of people out there writing – and being published – who might be more of a service to society if they chose to do something else. But by the same token, there may well be people out there who should be writing but aren’t. The NannyMo is but one of the many mechanisms by which such people might be flushed out into the open.

Rick <rick@rickwyatt.com>
- Tuesday, October 21 2003 10:25:49

ad hominemfest?
John, I simply have no idea where you are coming from when you characterize Lynn's post to you as ad hominem attack full of accusations and assumptions.

Lynn says that in poo-pooing the writing contest, you join the ranks of detractors everywhere. This is a true statement - you are certainly belittling the contest, and the only good end to which I can see this being done is to warn people to ignore it or not have anything to do with it.

She then mentions other detractors, such as those who told us to ignore the Wright Brothers or Galileo. While I agree it is a bit of a stretch to place you in this company, her point is that like those people you are telling people to not participate in an activity because it is a waste of time. I do not see any reasonable interpretation of her statement that would imply you have a "secret desire" to persecute great minds. In fact, it's a patently ridiculous conclusion. It's the same sort of deliberate misinterpretation as if a contest participant took your asking if making fun of them is the same as making fun of the Special Olympics to mean you are calling them retarded.

In making this interpretation, and using it as justification for calling Lynn's post an ad hominem attack, you demonstrate that you must either be a poor reader, have incredibly thin skin, or are looking for a fight.

The second thing Lynn says which might be considered ad hominem is "Go. Buy your mass media publications." There is an assumption there that you buy mass media publications. I hardly see how one could characterize that as an "attack" except that it does strike me as being slightly elitist. But given your recent statements, you are hardly in a position to criticize someone for being elitist.
Lynn's point is that without these contests and other avenues for amateurs who might not have conventional success via big publishing houses and mass media, we would miss out on some authors who would never make it out of the slush pile. I would hardly call this "changing the subject" or "acting goofy". And again, it has very little to do with you and much more to do with the value of the contest itself.

So what we have from Lynn in her zany, off-the-subject, ad hominem post is that she pointed out that you are a detractor and are therefore a member of the same set that contains people who bashed Galileo and da Vinci. And she assumed you might read mass media publications. If this is the sort of thing you characterize as being "eviscerated" and called a "vicious nobody", I would suggest that you are simply reading far more into what Lynn said than anyone would think you have a right to. I would further suggest that after spending so much time on these "attacks" you have no business complaining about anyone else drawing focus from the discussion of the writing contest.

Furthermore, it doesn't fly when you accuse Lynn of parroting Ellison and engaging in attack and accusation when she snipes at you but claim when you do the same you are just "having a little fun." You also leave any high ground you might have from which to call shenanigans on Lynn and others for their attitude when you dial up the sarcasm as high as you did in your last post. Finally, you can't question Lynn's making assumptions about you with any credibility after betting that most of the contest participants "are already assured of their burgeoning and astonishing talents, and see the contest as a change to show off."

My guess is that you came in here making fun of an activity that turned out to have supporters, quickly found you were in an untenable position, and played the martyr card. Now, I don't have any problem with you and Lynn and whoever sniping at each other as long as you obey the forum rules and don't piss off Harlan. But really, John, if you want to claim to be attacked and eviscerated here and hope anyone will buy it, you're going to have to both find better examples of persecution and provide fewer examples by which your complaints can be called hypocritical.

The sad thing is, many people here have risen to your bait instead of simply refuting your calling the MaMayMeMoWhatever a "colossal stupidity" and pointing out statements like "you will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing" as horrible. And there's a simple refutation that doesn't involve bashing the mass media or pointing to diamonds in the rough.

The main way to get better at writing is to WRITE. Honing your craft, spending time revising drafts, cutting pieces to the bone, they all help. But practically EVERYONE agrees that the person who comes out of the chute writing great, sellable prose is extremely rare. Most people start out writing crap, and slowly get better based mainly on two things: the amount of practice they get from writing and what they learn from feedback on that writing.

Your statement that the only value in this sort of exercise is that a writer might "work through some bad habit or literary tic" is not shared by most universities and writing programs. It is a common workshop practice to either ask students to continue to write for a period of time regardless of whether they know where their story is going or to teach them to write their way out of a hole instead of sitting there pondering how to get out. And without exception, every published writer I've spoken too in workshops has said they had to write a lot of crap before they were able to reliably produce anything better. One of the common mistakes young or inexperienced writers make is they become intimidated by the task and their desire to produce the Great American Novel or Short Story and fail to simply WRITE.

It is therefore evident that a contest that asks aspiring writers to produce a lot of material in a short time has some value, and is not colossally stupid or a waste of time. It further follows that the statements you point out as ridiculous are simply admissions on the part of the contest administrators that this IS a writing exercise and an attempt to get people to do the work necessary for learning. In fact, this contest is to be admired for doing so, as opposed to the dozens of other ones I see which are an excuse to collect an entrance fee or get you to buy their $40.00 book of "winners" when everyone wins.

NaNoWriMo may not produce the next Great American Novelist, but it is demonstrably not stupid or even "remarkably dopey." And you are having trouble defending that assertion not because the folks here are mean or because they failed to give you a warm welcome, but because you have given yourself a tough row to hoe.

- Tuesday, October 21 2003 9:43:43

Lynn: I still disagree, but you'll have to forgive me. It's just that I have been forced to read (and produce) a fair amount of hasty, amateurish crap lately. If I hafta read another "story" about a classmate's last acid trip--strewn with Hunter Thompson references, natch--I shall be sick over the pages. But I gotcha, I understand your position. Now kin I have a hug?

Little Justin, age 9

Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL - Tuesday, October 21 2003 9:40:57


You go girl!

- Tuesday, October 21 2003 8:31:14

For the bitter little man from Virginia.
JohnE wrote: "In any case, what bothers me about NannyMo is its outright encouragement of quantity over quality, an attitude which I believe does nothing to service the craft and everything to encouarage people to think it's all a lark."

Geeza, you're a short-sighted putz. Does the word "draft" mean anything to you? And I can assure you, no one who takes part thinks of it as a lark.

As for you Justin, the off-the-cuff attitude of "You, too, can become a novelist in one short month!" is the farthest thing from anything I've seen at the site. Not to mention, it seems you believe such a statement to equate "novelist" with "writer". As if by making it easy for some people to approach, it somehow steals the magic from your vaunted craft. Art isn't (or shouldn't be) put on a pedestal, made inaccessible, unattainable, sacred in the "nobody gets near the Pope" way. It should be sacred in the "nothing in the world feels as good as river mud between your toes" way. It should be accessible to anyone brave enough to reach for it.

Being an elitist is one thing. Being a snob is something else entirely.


California - Tuesday, October 21 2003 8:21:52

JohnE: What you fundamentally don't get about NaNoWriMo is that many of its participants are FULLY AWARE that their work isn't up to snuff. At least that was the case with the people I talked with at a pre-NaNoWriMo party organized two years ago. The participants took the challenge (a) to see if they could turn out a 50,000 word novel in the month allotted, (b) to try and understand the writing process through sheer labor, and (c) to give themselves a hobby. What's wrong with that? Excoriating NaNoWriMo in your uncouth manner is a bit like walking up to some quiet gentleman using a lapidary for the first time, someone sitting quietly on a bench, someone doing nobody any harm, just a guy who wants to understand how to whittle down rocks. Instead of leaving a person who causes you obvious discomfort alone, you pull down your breeches and defecate upon his carefully collected cairn. What you express is belligerence for belligerence's sake. It is beating people down with a truncheon without reason -- just because. Not unlike the mentality of the Einsatzgruppen.

JohnE <jwilliams76@starpower.net>
Falls Church, Virginny - Tuesday, October 21 2003 6:23:20

Exit, Stage Left

JohnE of Falls Church, Virginia, will be glad to step outside the board. As soon as he says just a few more things. I'm thinking I'll skip going to the other forums for now, but thanks for the invite, Chuck.

First of all, JohnE of Falls Church, Virginia apologizes profusely for having the temerity to characterize NaNoWriMo as anything other than good and kind and wonderful to writers and the future of writing. This obviously was a mistake, as the fuzzy warm welcome I received here in the Nook amply illustrates.

My "Ellisonitis" post was a reaction to Lynn's wonderfully zany ad hominemfest, wherein all sorts of whacky assumptions and accusations were flung my way. Rick calls this "showing backbone", whereas I call it "changing the subject" and "acting goofy". Lynn will no doubt tell you I had it coming, what with my secret desire to persecute Galileo and Wilbur and Orville and all, but none of this made-up stuff - and it was all made-up stuff, unless Lynn's been talking to my mom - had a thing to do with the validity of NannyMo and everything to do with scoring hits in an internet scrap. So, y'know, rather than respond to ditzy attacks (making fun of NannyMO is the same as making fun of the Special Olympics?), I had a little fun with Lynn's post. Her attempted zingers had a familiar, Ellisonian flavor to them, and since I read them on a board dedicated to Ellison, well... Again, I was having a little fun. Again, my mistake.

David Loftus, who holds out for the possibility that I'm an arrogant know-nothing nonwriter type but who at least argued with me reasonably: I wouldn't even try to guess what went through Mr. Ellison's head when he wrote his early stories, but I have a hard time believing he pummelled them out without thought towards quality or worthiness. Ask Dorothy Parker. In any case, what bothers me about NannyMo is its outright encouragement of quantity over quality, an attitude which I believe does nothing to service the craft and everything to encouarage people to think it's all a lark.

Boys and girls, I argued against NannyMo from the standpoint of someone who cares a great deal about writing, not as a Visigoth looking to tear down the Temple of Literacy. Pity that got lost in the scuffle.

- Tuesday, October 21 2003 6:0:10

I apologize for ridiculing the name of someone you have much respect for and I apologize for mistakenly assuming your gender based on your experiences in ballet. I made an assumption, and an ignorant one at that.

- Tuesday, October 21 2003 2:38:2

I seem to be out of synch with whatever the hell you're all babbling about here, and that's fine with me....

Earlier, I credited blacklisted director Herbert Biberman in vague terms for the achievements of SALT OF THE EARTH. Remaining true to Harlan’s argument about people getting due credit, the person responsible for this film’s brilliant script (utilizing documentary style techniques) – the guy who demanded story conferences with the Chicanos in the film AND the women to omit the Anglo-driven stereotypes and remain true to his themes of the struggle for equality - the guy who grit his teeth and yanked his forlock furiously to come up with a whole new story when Biberman and his partner ran dry of ideas that would work (though Biberman was the one who first saw story potential in the amazing 13-month strike in New Mexico) – was Michael Wilson, a screenwriter, ALSO blacklisted and barred from Hollywood, who’d won an Oscar for ‘A Place In the Sun’.

SALT OF THE EARTH is absolutely a passionate film by Herbert Biberman AND Michael Wilson.

Do your asses a favor and rent the film, dammit.

- Tuesday, October 21 2003 2:24:53

Firstly, I humbly accept that it would do me well to pay heed to the laws of syntax, grammer, language usage, and of course the almighty LOGIC. It is no doubt sloppiness in these areas that is causing me sloppiness in my general outlook on life which is skewed and therefore dangerous to my fellow man. In any case, it makes communication impossible, but hanging out here keeps me out of the porn sites.

If, as an athiest, you want to condemn organized religion and religious leaders--I'm on your side. They are BAD BAD BAD--the WORST, responsible for the unspeakable--Missionizing, Crusading, and Mass Murdering, etc.

Also, if you want to say that religions are "not true" I would also not want to argue with you. To say one is true and the rest is false also goes in the category of BAD BAD BAD.

I am only talking about taking it seriously. Why can't you
people just step into a creator/creature perspective of life and then read the ancient texts to see life through the eyes of the people/characters who lived it--instead of just condemning the texts as "so much balderdash"?

I, personally, was saved by the great prophet Carl Jung and his "collective subconscious" rigamorol. It explained to me why these "old time religions" don't just go away.

If you want to know if something is true, stop believing in it-- if it goes away, it's not true--Don Dillilo

- Tuesday, October 21 2003 1:26:40

How small would the earth's circumference have to be in order to realize it's surface was curved as you walked?

Tucson - Tuesday, October 21 2003 0:13:24

David: First of all, I don’t know if I congratulated you on your recent tour. I meant to, but if I didn’t please allow me to do so now. On to business: I think I understand where you and Lynn are coming from here, and I think John was outta line. But speaking for myself--and I realize I’m probably overreacting--I just found the whole thing slightly rankling because of this idea that “You too, friend, can become a novelist in just one short month.” Bleagh. It’s not an idea that sits well with me. “My foot,” that’s my first reaction. It’s not that I don’t have empathy, as you say, for people who are struggling or just starting out. It’s that I am one of those people and it is hard and it is painful and I just find the “do it slapdash in a month” idea vaguely insulting. I mean, they don’t have a national brain surgery month, do they? Virtually everyone I know thinks they have a good book or screenplay inside. Not everyone thinks they have it in themselves to become a mathematician or go into the Army or paint a good picture or make a sculpture, but sweet heavens a lot of people seem to think that writing doesn’t require much more than time, motivation and a pencil. I truly believe that most people are so inherently fearful and lazy that if they had any conception of what writing was all about, any idea about the inhuman amount of bodily fluids and RESEARCH it requires, then they wouldn’t cling to the delusion that they could do it.

Most people I’ve come across in my life--and there have been a lot--who “wanna” be writers have no discipline. This Nomo funkypants whatever business just seems like a rather silly way to impose discipline where there wasn’t any before, and it plays into this idea that just any old body can be a novelist. So it bugs me. But I’m speaking as someone who last published something in his grade school newspaper. I did weekly comic when I was eight or nine called “Space Dog.” In the last strip I published (and drew, mind you, I’m a man of many talents) Space Dog landed on a planet that was deserted save for…get this…a fire hydrant. Just a little one. So Space Dog sees it with his doggie binoculars, right? And he goes up…and he piddles on it! Then he gets back into his rocket and zooms off. Genius, no? And that was the last thing I published. I impart that information merely to illustrate how far up my ass I have my head when speaking of these things. But I just don’t want to insult real writers, who are good at their craft, by calling MYSELF a writer or a novelist (creator of Space Dog, yes, I won’t rob myself of that)…or by thinking what they do is EASY.

But nevermind that shit. Here’s a headline from yesterday’s DAILY WILDCAT, the U of A newspaper (think I should pitch ‘em Space Dog?): STUDENTS MAKE HOBBY OF DOWNLOADING PORN. Says here many students on campus spend up to 98% of their online time viewing pornography. Some students watch porn instead of doing homework, and their downloading habits sap resources from the campus network, resources the school spent a shitpile of money on, so to provide we students with “the latest in information technology.” This kind of thing has gotta be even worse in places like MIT, right? Heavens.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Monday, October 20 2003 23:8:9

Meet the Ballet Boy


Sorry, but I can’t riff on Larry Long, as he is a real person and deserving of some respect. As for me, I’m afraid I stand revealed. The subtle exchange of "she" for "he" indicates that your Holmesian probing has penetrated my darkest secret and I stand here revealed: a long legged adonis with hypnotically well-sculpted buttocks and a softly tufted triangle of curly brown hair nestled playfully in the small of my back. Admit it Rich, your heart catches. You blush hotly and your palms start to sweat. Relax. Come to me, and I’ll call you Ekatrina Sobitchenskaya. At your ease in my chambers, you will always wear silk.

JohnE was whining about people on Ellison’s site having a tendency to imitate Ellison. Well, Rich, I imitated Ellison by trying to be an artist and getting my face beat in by muscular jocks, and being called ‘faggit’ while winking fun-boys like yourself stood laughing on the side. His Lathrop schoolyard introduction in ‘Approaching Oblivion’ was an inspiration to me, and I imitated him by saying ‘screw it’ to teasing like yours and being an artist anyway. Some people just can’t come up with anything good on their own, others should be imitated.

And now, my good man, if you’ll excuse me, and may God strike me dead if this isn’t true, my little feverish two year old just threw up in my lap and I have chunks of chewed orange sticking to my kneecaps and I have to go change her pajamas.



Hyperactive rhesus monkey starts turning back handsprings from upstage center, slips on a handful of the Harlequin’s jellybeans and falls crashing into the orchestra pit. To paraphrase Miss Austen, we’re all here to entertain and, in our turn, to be entertained. The wise fools amuse themselves in places where they might accidentally learn something.

Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
- Monday, October 20 2003 20:38:20

John E:

Normally, I just lurk here, maybe pop up with something useless from time to time. However, I think I'll just invite you take take this to the other board where you can square off with any of us and clear the air in this venue.

You want a piece of us? Please step outside.


- Monday, October 20 2003 16:50:13

PS, I referred to Floyd Bostick without identifying who he was: another cast member/Union striker. You'll be seein' what ah mean in muh li'l review awaitin' thee all.

- Monday, October 20 2003 16:38:51

FRANK'S apparent idea of a film receiving "good reviews":

Roger Ebert: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE...ZERO star rating.

"The new version of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is a contemptible film: Vile, ugly and brutal. There is not a shred of a reason to see it. Those who defend it will have to dance through mental hoops of their own devising, defining its meanness and despair as "style" or "vision" or "a commentary on our world." It is not a commentary on anything, except the marriage of slick technology with the materials of a geek show."

Frank...I'd really hate to see what your EEGs look like.


Don't rejoice TOO much over a MAN-THING movie prospect. I once looked that up as well. The filmmaker's aim will be a "small" film with only a few scant appearances of...'SOMETHING OUT THERE'. Not much of the book's unique premise will remain intact.

I don't consider the book - the wonderfully macabre original by Steve Gerber and Mike Ploog - a filmable property anyway. It is literally the most subjective comic in history. It's as much about what stirs within the primitive mucky empath as human hate and fear is about the Surfer. When theme is so grafted to a character there is no way to avoid abandoning it without diminishing the power of that character.

I can't see any cinematic translation doing justice to the psychology of that emblazoned tagline, "WHATEVER KNOWS FEAR BURNS AT THE MAN-THING'S TOUCH".


I only caught that animated series once or twice. Insufficient for me to comment.

Now to all, I'd like to try to urge you to rent one of the most remarkable films of ALL time.

It's called SALT OF THE EARTH. Made in 1953, it's based on the true story of a miner's strike in New Mexico, comprised mostly of hispanics victimized by bigotry at the hands of authorities and their employers. Thematically, it explores the issues of racism, sexism (the male strikers would themselves learn they could not survive the 13-month strike without the help of their wives...who, in turn, take over the picket, enduring gas grenades and arrest), ethnic preconceptions (whites of hispanics AND vice versa), and solidarity. Way, WAY ahead of its time, the film remains almost entirely alone to this day in terms of its honesty. No 'Hollywood' tricks compromising the material to pander; no phony, bullshit sentimentalism at the expense of integrity.

It was filmed by blacklisted director Herbert Biberman. It was his direct response to the McCarthy scythe sweeping the country; he'd enlisted a film crew made up of unemployable blacklisted technicians and African Americans who'd been victims of a segregated International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Emplyoyers. Biberman handed the script to the hispanic cast members for their input; listening to their responses he carefully removed all and any stereotype cliches about the behavior of Mexicans. Signicantly, Biberman and company had to change their own preconceptions to make a realistic portrayal of an ethnic group.

One of many remarkable things about the movie is the cast itself. It was comprised of the actual strikers who participated in the real account (which had been a year or two before this film). The lead character, Ramon, who guides the strike, was actually the president of Local 890 (who had led the real strike)! For a guy who'd simply been a miner, he delivers one HELLUVA performance. I was ASTOUNDED. (They MUST'VE brought in an acting couch; regardless, you have to have some talent - some grasp of naturalistic timing - to do as well as HE did.) Only five or six characters in the movie are played by professional actors, including a relatively young Will Geer as the asshole sherriff. The great actress, Rosaura Revueltas, played Ramon's wife.

I discovered in some brief research that production fell victim to the very forces the strike itself endured. Ironically, the filmmakers were drawn into the very confrontations they were dramatizing in the movie. The whole country responded to the making of this film as a Communist threat. For starters, Ms. Revueltas was, in the course of filming, arrested by immigration for having entered the country illegally (Biberman had to use a stand-in for her, employing tricks shooting from behind). After the film she herself would be blacklisted in her native country and she never made another movie.

But most intriguing were the events surrounding the MAKING of this film. They are as incendiary as the events depicted in the movie itself. With some information off the Internet and a book by Biberman recounting the hurdles, I learned that the right-wing media blitzed Washington, and soon the whole country, with "panic" language to discredit the production and inflame the pro-McCarthy readership. A member of HUAC told Congress it was a threat, (citing scenes in the movie that never existed): "This picture is deliberately designed to inflame racial hatreds and to depict the United Stated as the enemy of all colored peoples...I shall do everything in my power to prevent the showing of this communist-made film in the theaters of America".

And RKO president Howard Hughes outlined a plan of action for stopping the film from being processed and distributed. The tension reached the movie set itself; residents in the area came in. Fights broke out between them and the film crew. Bullets were fired into a car of one of the actors. There was a fire at the local headquarters. Store owners who serviced members of the film crew were threatened. Only intervention by Catholic clergymen and the New Mexican State Police protected the crew from being "taken out of town in pine boxes", as one vigilante group swore would happen. The day after the crew left, the house of Floyd Bostick was burned down.

The lengths to which they went to get the film completed were just as amazing: 8 labs in Hollywood refused to process the film. The filmmakers resorted to sneaky tactics to get it done, like giving the movie a false title. And editing took place in several secret locations...including a ladies' room in a vacant theater!! It's like something out of Tim Burton's ED WOOD.

In the end, American distributors banned the film. Theater owners refused its running. Papers refused advertising. Only 13 theaters around the country ran the movie. (And THOSE theaters got picketed) YET...in those theaters ALONE...the film made back all its initial costs! After seening it, even the critics were expressing consternation about all the Communist scare talk. The strikers in the movie (as they had in real life) were merely demanding reform, not revolution as the McCarthyites had insisted. The film's considerable profits, of course, would come from Europe and Canada (Biberman, in fact, used the filming tecniques that were being inspired and revolutionized at the time in France and Italy).

SEE this film, man. SALT OF THE EARTH. It's extraordinary. And the more you know about its history the more amazing the film becomes.

Scott Reeston
- Monday, October 20 2003 15:5:30

Rat Pfink A Boo Boo

Jon: Chuckling silently, and wondering if any of our resident baseball masochists are taking down your address with earnest interest.

Let's also mention the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and White Sox (not won a World Series since 1917), as further evidence of the continuing futility of Beantown and Packingtown. Something in the water, mayhaps? We could apply for a grant to see if it's genetic deficiencies as root cause, or perhaps pollution.

Who's got a problem with kicking someone when they're down? When they're up they try to get out of the way of your boot...

Which brings me to Joseph: I have the book and have read it, but the blur of memories of tomes I've read makes it tough to recall. I'll have to pull it down and reread it before I'd chance an opinion.

Jay: When the newbies grease up, have the resident Webderland speed metal kazoo band play the fight theme from "Star Trek" (I'm at a loss to recall the composer; was it Alexander Courage?), the one I recall used prominently in the "Amok Time" episode during the Kirk/Spock battle. Make them feel more at home as you choke the life out of them with the intellectual equivalent to the ahn-woon.

Ah, dinner bell. Salut, mes amis!


LA, CA - Monday, October 20 2003 14:47:4

Poor Miah....
Thanks to all for the suggestions. The changing of the schools is unfortunately not an option--she still lives in the small farming town where we grew up, and this is actually her best option as far as a school is concerned, and there's only the one bus, which he insists that he's big enough to take. Apparently in his peer group this year, only babies get rides to school; she did offer.

I had a long talk with him over the weekend--30 minutes is a long time for a 7 year old to be on the phone!--and his issue is in the structural changes in his life. He's like his mom and I, a natural night owl, and the change to the "morning world" is extremely hard on him. He loves school, and is having a great time making friends, but it's starting to look like there's just no way that 7:30 in the morning is ever going to be a good time for him. His mom's making him get up, at least for 3 or 4 hours, at 6:20 even on the weekends, even though both our experience is that that whole methodology is questionable. I've been trying to wake up to be where I'm supposed to be by 8 am for thirty years, and I still hate mornings! But I think between his parents, my parents (who are "Gramma and Grandad" to him) his big brother and me all talking to him over the weekend about how discouraged he was, he's feeling a little more like it's a big boy thing, and that things will be better as he gets used to it.

It's still not a happy thing, though, to know that a first grader feels about the same way about HIS existence on a day to day basis, as I do when I stare at the piles of paperwork on my desk...

- Monday, October 20 2003 13:47:44

Hey Frankie! I think she said...


Frank Church
- Monday, October 20 2003 13:40:49

Someone called, Phelps a "Reverend." He is as much a Reverend, as a child molester is a mere bohemian. The guy should be gang raped by a mob of Act-Up leather boys, and whipped with rusty chains--then someone can put three scoops of ice cream on his dick, and call on the services of a hungry rotweiler.

Christ may vomit on him, when he sees him.


Texas Chainsaw did go number one--don't know what that signals. But it is getting good reviews. Probably will wait though.


"Frank Church is a stud"


Jon Stover
Canada - Monday, October 20 2003 13:5:43

Kneel Before Zod!
Ben&Rob: What did the two of you think of the Fox cartoon series from the late 90s? I thought it had major flaws (the CGI stuff chief among them), but that it was better than I expected. Hardly ringing praise, but I do wish they'd continued it, especially given where the series ended.

The Lee/Kirby hardcover graphic novel from the 1970s would be one way to go with a movie, though I'd still like to see a Fantastic Four movie with Galactus and the Surfer. I think it was Alec Ross who said that he'd been astonished when, in the course of going over the FF issues in which the Big G and the Surfer appear, he'd realized that Lee and Kirby had staged what amounted to a superhero battle between God and Christ. Which is one way of looking at it.

Harlan: Have you ever written an essay on sports? Or baseball? I've noted over the last few days how many writers not normally associated with 'sports writing' (examples from King and Updike come to mind) have produced non-fiction gems about baseball, and your earlier board writings about Satchel Paige made me wonder whether you'd ever committed any such thoughts to paper.

Scott: To extend your Leafs joke, I guess one could say to Red Sox and Cubs fans 'Hey, ever tried winning a World Series on television?' But that would be cruel. Maybe it's not a Sox curse -- maybe it's a brain cloud that causes managers to do stupid things at the wrong time, a terrible intelligence-devouring demon that normally resides in the bowels of Fenway but also travels with the team.

Cheers, Jon

David Loftus <dloft59@earthink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Monday, October 20 2003 12:47:48

the job of writing

Mr. John E of Falls Church, Virginia, has been too canny in his posts to reveal whether or not he has tried writing on a sustained basis, so I cannot tell whether his recent posts have issued from the arrogance of one who knows the territory and has no empathy for folks who are struggling and/or just starting out, or from the impertinence of one who has no interest in climbing this particular mountain but has enjoyed the fruits of others’ labors.

Let’s bring this back to our patron author, shall we? This is what this particular board is supposed to be about. Mr. Ellison labored for years upon years, writing a lot of what I’m sure he would politely term crap, as well. Much of this, as he has described on the interview/recording "Loving Reminiscences of the Dying Gasp of the Pulp Era" and elsewhere, involved trying to come up with a story (or more accurately, the pretense of an idea for a story) that would remotely fit the artwork already completed for the covers of various 1950s pulp magazines, so he could then win the assignment of writing the story.

Stupid artwork, stupid ideas, very hard and looming deadlines.

How, in substance, is this different from the NaNoWriMo, save that Ellison was writing for pay? Some of those stories were salvageable and published (after a bit of work) in book form years later, but many of them Mr. Ellison would probably just as soon forget because they are crap; he didn’t aim for quality or high art, and most assuredly did not attain it. At the same time, however, I suspect he is grateful both for the money they brought in and for the invaluable practice he got doing them . . . they paved the way for the great stuff he would do later.

There is no “right” way to become a writer. Though I’m mainly with Lynn in this, I would certainly not go so far as to say “aiming low is the best way to succeed.” I started out a much better writer than Harlan Ellison (because of education, a happier childhood, and less of a willingness to produce and publish crap with mistakes intact), but for the same reasons it took me a lot longer to become a published author and I will most likely not end up as good a writer as he.

But I couldn’t have done it his way and he couldn’t have done it mine. In one of Vonnegut’s books (“Palm Sunday,” I think), he chides people who would scoff at Judith Krantz, Harold Robbins and the like, saying I, Vonnegut, could never write the kind of books they write, never in a million years. So they have their place (certainly for all the folks who read their books).

- Monday, October 20 2003 12:33:59

God knows I’ve been resisting temptation for a while, but being a hapless Silver Surfer devotee, I HAVE to leap into the mud with Rob and Lee just once.

Rob, I completely and utterly agree with you that the Surfer is more of an ideal than a character. There is an eerie, distinctly ethereal aura to the Silver Surfer that the rest of the Marvel canon do not possess. Ironically, he’s far more ‘mythic’ in essence and scale than Thor (based on an actual deity) could ever be.

Recently, I’ve been writing a SILVER SURFER script as a kind of hobby. (I don’t bicycle as much as I would like.) There’s no serious nature or commitment attached to the project, because, frankly, with every single frickin’ Marvel character ever created getting a goddamn film of their own (I heard there’s a MAN-THING movie somewhere on the horizon - whoopee), it’s pretty much a guarantee the Sentinel of the Spaceways will make his cinematic debut well before I could ever HOPE to streamline this baby. Besides, I always feel better at heart working with my OWN creations, as pretty much most writers would attest. But I CAN tell you TWO things. Most of the action takes place on Earth, and the Surfer maintains his extraterrestrial appearence throughout the course of the entire film.



Speaking of which, I recall you were going to get around to telling how you created a Surfer yarn yourself, when your computer suddenly pulled a ‘Fred C. Dobbs’ on your butt. I’d still LOVE to hear it, whenever you have the opportunity…



"Perhaps these cartoonish General Zod wannabees and their sadly overestimated self-worth are doing so in the hopes of getting the man's attention."

Heck, Jay, we're ALL afflicted with that condition. It’s the first thing that crawls across our subconscious when we enter this site. We're ALL trying to PRETEND to be rational, decent individuals, but inside we're waving our monkey-arms about and screaming, "MISTAH HE! MISTAH HE! LOOKIT ME, LOOKIT ME!"

Sad, but true.

Joseph J. Finn
- Monday, October 20 2003 11:49:54

Scott Reeston,

Speaking of Pearl S. Buck, you might enjoy her semi-autobiography, "My Several Worlds" (I say semi- becuase it's more about growing up as a chil boomeranging around early 20-th century China and the United States than it is about her personal life). It's a really interesting read.


- Monday, October 20 2003 11:2:54

Here we go again...
Why is it this gladiatorial preening and posturing bullshit always starts here where Ellison is watching and nobody bothers raising a fight in the Forum?

Perhaps the newbies think its a place to show off their alleged Ellisonian disenfranchised rants about how boring the world is with its ignorant inhabitants. Perhaps these cartoonish General Zod wannabees and their sadly overestimated self-worth are doing so in the hopes of getting the man's attention.

If you want to get lathered up, strap on a leather chestplate and swing swords, take it to the forum.

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Monday, October 20 2003 10:58:27

I don't think we're going to find many defenders of Fred Phelps here-- so the denunciations of the guy aren't exactly an exercise in furthering wisdom. We all know he's a world-class asshole.

What amazes me about Fred Phelps is this. We've all encountered people who like to promote unsavory or ugly ideas. And we've encountered religous nuts who feel driven to preach their stuff on street corners, accosting passers-by with the gospel of their choice. But even among the motley ranks of the Robertsons, the Falwells, the Ernst Zundels, the Tim LaHayes, Fred Phelps stands among among even them. This is a guy _driven_ to be an asshole even beyond the usual constraints of assholery.

Creeps like Falwell and Robertson are content to denounce people from the comfort of their fake universities and television networks. But Phelps actually goes out of his way to _court_ hatred in his direction. I can't imagine Falwell turning up to shout shit at the mourners of Matthew Shephard unless he had a phalanx of bodyguards nearby. Phelps clearly _wants_ people to hate him. Frankly, if someone walked up to Phelps with a baseball bat, and stove in his child's brains in front of him, Phelps'd probably drop to his knees and thank Jesus for the blessed event.

So it doesn't make much sense for me to work up some nice, visceral description of what I _wish_ would happen to the guy. And several such scenarios are floating through my mind right now. But that's what his life's work is: to get decent people to hate him even beyond the usual scale of hatred.

- Monday, October 20 2003 10:57:43


Oh please, I didn't come close to eviscerating you. And I really don't want this to get to the mud-slinging point. Contrary to appearances, I do have a sense of humility when it comes to my writing. And you'd be surprised to know I actually agree with you on the quality of what NaNoWriMo will produce. 98% of it will be crap.

But again, that's not the point.

The point is that until someone tries, they'll never know if they have what it takes. I don't intend to participate to read other people's stuff. I've tried the workshop route and after a few months, I discovered there's only so many times you can write "Show Don't Tell". That's not what this is about. This is about picking a place on the horizon and doing what it takes to get there. It is indeed "Art for art's sake."

What's the Special Olympics motto? "Let us be victorious, and if we are not victorious, let us be bold in the attempt." Now, you can sit there and snigger at the blatant Special Olympics analogy like a fifth grader, or you can rise above that and see the value in attempting something like this. (Glass half full, half empty. You make the call.)

I challenge you sir, to think back to a task you undertook (aside from ministering to your bodily functions) that was solely for your own edification, regardless of whether you succeeded or failed. Something you wanted to do just for the experience, regardless of the quality of the outcome. And if you've never attempted anything that you weren't sure of the outcome? ::shrugs::

Oh and likening me to our patron will only get you brownie points around here. If anything, my fatal flaw is that I haven't read *enough* Ellison and still haven't taken up Plumbing as my true calling. (Shut up, Harlan, just zip it.) If anyone around here knows me (like Rick & Cindy & Jon & the rest of you, near and dear to my heart), they'll know that I wasn't defending my credentials to you... I was defending them to myself.

So feel free to call NaNoWriMo whatever you like, JohnE.


P.S. And if you'd care to search for it, "W*R*I*T*E*R" was what Mr. Ellison dubbed me after my first atrociously sophomoric post to this forum. He's also called me a "paskudnyak" which is genetrally too much of a tongue-twister for most folks. Again, self-referential, not self-aggrandizing.

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Monday, October 20 2003 10:24:16

Unfortunately, a good number of his children are attorneys, so they know exactly how far they can go legally.

If it's any comfort, he is considered far beyond the pale, even by a lot of people on the Christian right--he's attacked a lot of them too. He came to Tulsa once [where I used to live] and attacked Oral Roberts' son--it definitely didn't go over well and I think he was mostly ignored.

In unrelated, more pleasant matters:
I'd give one more bit of advice to the kid in question...not only should he study hard, but he should study something marketable. I didn't, and that's a big part of why I'm in the position I'm in right now, that is, unemployed. I'm planning on heading back to school once I get residency here to correct the mistakes I made the first time I was in college.

- Monday, October 20 2003 9:4:46

Adam-Troy, I hadn't heard that bit of news. Absolutely horrifying. Isn't there some law by which Phelps can be arrested, detained, made to stop? (or just put in a room with several big angry men?)

Rick <rick@rickwyatt.com>
- Monday, October 20 2003 8:45:57

"Lynn seems to be suffering from an ailment that seems too common on this board, namely, IReadTooMuchEllisonitis."

Whereas, of course, calling someone who shows a hint of a backbone an Ellison wannabe is OH SO EXTREMELY RARE AND UNUSUAL...

Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL - Monday, October 20 2003 7:0:21

Ya done it again, kid!


Kudos aplenty on Rabbit Hole #33. Entertaining, informative...the works.

Ray Carlson

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Monday, October 20 2003 6:0:18

Adam-Troy Castro: And this latest instance of man's inhumanity to man is brought to you by the Christian Right. Yes, the Christian Right - judging and hating and condemning and acting in all ways unChristian since 1A.D.!

And the creepiness creeps on...


JohnE <jwilliams76@starpower.net>
Falls Church, Virginny - Monday, October 20 2003 5:47:48

Lynn seems to be suffering from an ailment that seems too common on this board, namely, IReadTooMuchEllisonitis. Symptoms include taking on aspects of a certain author's hellraising persona, including the "Hey, Everybody, Watch As I Eviscerate This Poor Dumb Schlub" and the "You're Just Another In A Long Line of Vicious Nobodies Who Dare Smear Their Betters" (Wilbur, Orville and Galileo were a nice touch - Lynn coulda called me Cotton Mather and scored a perfect 10!).

Even Ellison would not, I'm guessing, presume to make up what publications he thinks his unseen opponent reads and use that as a cudgel, nor would he necessarily condescend with statements like "Be glad you have big publishing houses to spoon feed you their version of talent and craft (or at least what sells best)." (But that's okay, Lynn. To me, you'll always be That Cosmo Gal.)

Last but not least, of course, is the time-worn "I Got the Creds and You Don't, Bub" (gosh wow, boys and girls, Lynn is a Pulitzer-prize author defended W*R*I*T*E*R), which wears well on Ellison but not on Lynn - heck, I never heard of her, card-carrying TV Guide subscriber (oh, but I MUST be) that I am. And let us not omit Lynn's last flick of the finger at my poor misshapen forehead. Ouch! Dat hurt, boss.

Now, none of this has convinced me that NaNoWriMo is any less dopey than I previously thought, so I suppose I will simply carry on as a non-next-Margaret-Atwood-discovering misanthrope. Somebody pass me my Entertainment Weekly.

- Monday, October 20 2003 5:31:47

Fred Phelps (aka Dick-Pustule, aka Cocksucker, aka Mr. Poopyhead) is yet another example of those that really have no business living and one wonders how he managed to get this far. He almost makes me want to believe in his Christian god just so I can be there to kick his ass when he thinks he's gonna make it through the Pearly Gates. ("No, no, Petey. I got this motherfucker." Hauling Mr. Poopyhead by the lapels to the entrance marked, Hell: Hypocrites and Haters. "Time to take out the trash.")

Also, for the nitpickers out there, we all know Adam-Troy meant "Phelps" instead of "Shepard" in that second sentence.

And Lee said that she knew a guy named Larry Long.

Larry Long. Hee hee.

Still a sophomore,

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Monday, October 20 2003 4:17:9

Vile, Worthless Prick of the Week
The Reverend Fred Phelps is erecting a monument to celebrate the day the murdered gay teen Matthew Shepard "entered hell." Shepard has also been regularly picketing the gravesite and the teen's bereaved family. The monument will be a bust of Shepard with a plaque quoting Leviticus and assuring visitors that Shepard is damned.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Sunday, October 19 2003 22:16:16

NaNoWriMo - Gimme Some!

In the ballet world, each summer produces a spate of dance camps headed by more or less renowned and often retired Big Names in The Business. These camps are similar in concept to NaNoWriMo, making a modest promise to provide a unique environment for discovering and mining the vein of talent that threads through the imaginations of bunheads everywhere. One of the ways I covered my modest rent when I was still in training was to whore myself out to the dance camps; for a few hundred dollars plus room and board I would show up at a designated cultural backwater and spend two or three weeks hoisting the happy heifers. They would listen attentively, and perspire lightly, and go home happy. And where’s the harm in that?

I eventually got a job with American Ballet Theatre and for the next ten years I made my living as a dancer. As dancers we toured a lot, were always together, warmed up with each other every morning, and generally developed a strong urge to get away from one another, striking out in twos and threes to seek out local schools to train in while we were on the road. There was a local guy named Larry Long in Chicago, and I was in his school while we were passing through when I heard a little squeaky female voice so unique that I could remember it from having heard it at a dance camp five years before.

Turned out, one of the happy heifers from Bumfuck Idaho had found her passing gear and eventually joined up with Hubbard Street Dance, which as some here may know is a sterling modern company resident in Chicago – if you can dance there, go ahead and hold your head up. And if you’re ever in Chicago, buy a ticket and see a show! But getting back to NaNoWriMo, my experience is that different types of people need different kinds of stimulus to get themselves going; all you can say about any venue is whether or not it’s right for you. And if 100,000 heifers flow through a system that produces 1 decent artist, I say we all came out ahead and with no harm done to the rest.

- Sunday, October 19 2003 21:46:24


You wrote: "Which brings me to my final point: why in heaven’s name would I or anyone else want to be subjected to amateurish crap and, worse, amateurish crap that is shoveled out in a month’s time? "

Wow, have you missed the point. ::blink, blink:: Explaining this will be like explaining Frank Church to an innocent bystander. Wish me luck, folks.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is not to write literary goodness, fit to be placed between your precious volumes of Twain & Ellison. Even tho' I know there have been three NaNoWriMo induced manuscripts *sold*, I also know that isn't the goal of this "internet stunt". The point is, you don't have to submit yourself to anyone's amateurish crap. But to stand by and go, "Gosh what a waste of time." is to join the dishonorable ranks of detractors everywhere. Y'know? The people who told Wilbur & Orville they were out of their minds, the people who thought that Galileo was a heretic, the people who thought da Vinci was a crazy old man from Turin?

Go. Buy your mass media publications. Feel good about yourself and the fact that you will never have to read through a slush pile, and that subsequently, you will never know what it's like to read a first-time Thomas Pynchon or Margaret Atwood. Be glad you have big publishing houses to spoon feed you their version of talent and craft (or at least what sells best).

(a "W*R*I*T*E*R" whose work has been defended by a Pulitzer Prize nominated author to our very patron...)

P.S. Your words, warm and inspiring, will be printed out and taped next to all the positive feedback I've received, just as a signpost to my second hand, thrift-store, eBay bargain, junk drawer muse.

TEXAS - Sunday, October 19 2003 21:38:19

I am truly sorry for your loss. I'll pray for you and your family.



I have six biological children-- ranging in age from 26 to 7. I'll tell you what I would tell the kid who wants to know what happened to his life-- tell him wellfare is for bums, the rest of us have to work which means we get up early and tend to our business. When we go to bed at night we're tired from work--so we sleep. Tell him weekends and holidays are the icing for our necessary brand of cake and that if he works hard in class and gets good grades SOME day he'll be able to land the day to day grind of his dreams doing something he loves rather than something he has to do even though he despises it. Tell him to keep his shoulder to the wheel so he will rise to the top and be entitled to a place at the table of education. Assure him that this is the only way to insure that he'll be allowed to work using his brain rather than his back . Usually this will cure any kid of the future notion to articulate his self pity-- it's worked on mine for YEARS-- the lecture will bore them sufficiently that they no longer WANT to whine about that subject, fearing another session of endless droning on .

Thank you so much for the links to the Chrysler Windsors-- sadly, THIS car was so far superior to any photograph that I've been able to find that it should be on your list of things to do to FIND one-- done in cream and chrome to see for yourself. You won't be disappointed.


Darlin', you're RIGHT! I'm NOT into cars-- which is why my reaction startled me. I wish I had waited to post that message though-- how I did go on! If I had it to do over again I'd have said something like." I saw a cool car last night-- the Chrysler Windsor." But I was still under its influence when I sat down to expound.

How you been?


I personally believe that it would be remarkably dopey to dismiss ANY method chosen by another writer if that method helps him or her to produce. As for " Massive amounts of crap"-- I don't know of a whole helluva lot of writers who can churn out a first draft that's worth more than used road salt-- but given enough effort-where there lies true, innate ability-- straw CAN be spun into gold.

Lynn, you can write-- there is no question about that. You go on out now and show them that you can cook with the recipe you've chosen.

In FACT I might sign up to play that game too.


Scott Reeston
- Sunday, October 19 2003 14:26:40

Odds and Sods

Jon: Still like the comment I've heard a few times, vis a vis the Leafs: Ever hear of winning a Stanley Cup in colour?

Justin: If you want an excellent introduction to Borges, I'd suggest "Selected Non-fictions", a collection of some of Borges' best essay and commentary pieces. There's a commentary on Hitchcock that by itself stands as justification for the price of the book. There's also a fantastic collection of his poetry available.

Prokosch: Loved "The Seven Who Fled"; put me to mind of the work of Pearl S. Buck in scope and themes. Have hunted a few of his others, based on the recommendation.

Got to suggest Anna Kavan..."Ice" is magnificent.


- Sunday, October 19 2003 13:36:56


I, of course, couldn't agree with your SURFER follow-up more.

An interesting quandary followed the original book by Stan Lee and John Buscema. It faded because of poor sales. And given its almost-spiritual thematic dimension, you have to ask yourself how that was possible.

Well, Stan himself said he didn't know where to take the series. It got trapped in its repetitions. The problem, I believe, is because no solid regular characters were created to counterpoint the Surfer. Peter Parker had all these great diverse personalities around him to confront; Ben and Johnny had to fight each other all the time in Fantastic Four, and so on. But the Surfer? Story conflicts just weren't developed enough to build a narrative river in the series (a universal must-have in series story-telling). Consequently, the Surfer was more the embodiment of an ideal than a character. Try to imagine the original Star Trek with all but Spock removed from the series. By himself Spock was a pretty dull dude; he would not likely be able to carry the show alone. Without conflict you can't bring out the elements that make a character interesting. We only behave in certain ways when someone is there to bring it out of us.

Thus, once the Surfer book made its point about human fear and hate it had no where else to go. Yet, that being your dilemma when trying to work out a series, to remove THIS vital thematic element to spin a movie yarn...man, it's unforgivable. A breach as proportional - and even more drastic - as when they wanted to make Harlan's Blood speak with his lips moving, a la Mr. Ed.

That takes care of today's profound insights.

Tomorrow: how I fought my way past Union picketers to buy myself a rancid chicken.

Jon Stover
Canada - Sunday, October 19 2003 12:3:59

Scott: Oh, yeah, the Leafs. I wonder if Toronto would actually riot if they won a Stanley Cup? 250,000 people take to the streets when they win game 6 of a conference semi-final, after all. But Toronto's not much for rioting.

Lynn: Somewhere, Walter Gibson is saying 'Let's see, 30 days...that would be four Shadow novels if I take a lot of time off.' I'm not sure the sort of writer who actually works well at high speeds would ever need such a contest to get going, but trying to write a novel in one month beats trying to watch all of NBC's fall schedule in one month.

Cheers, Jon

Jim Hess
- Sunday, October 19 2003 10:49:3

We're back to quality literature such as "The Seven Who Fled". Good. At the moment I am working through Dan Simmons' "Ilium", and I look to the offerings listed in the latest issue of HERC.

Many thanks to those masters who create these works.

Until next time. . .

Jim Hess

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Sunday, October 19 2003 9:23:22


Sorry Rob, I spelled your name "Ron" in the title line of my last post.

Justin <thedogindiana@hotmail.com>
- Sunday, October 19 2003 9:9:8

-------- Order Details --------

Alibris Order
TITLE: The Seven Who Fled.
AUTHOR: Prokosch, Frederic.
PRICE: 7.90


Pvt. Mudd

(I meant to get the book earlier really I did but what with Timmy’s pulmonary tuberculosis and Suzie’s elephantiasis it’s just been…well you know how it is)

JohnE <jwilliams76@starpower.net>
Falls Church, VA - Sunday, October 19 2003 7:52:46

Lynn did sayeth:

JohnE: Might I suggest you read a little bit further and investigate a little bit deeper before you go calling something like this 'colossal stupidity'. To me, baseball seems to be colossal stupidity, especially when one fan is getting death threats for catching a foul ball. Jeeza, people. It's a fucking game. To me, doing NaNoWriMo is a way to stretch your writing legs without having to meet unattainable goals. You never know if you can run the marathon until you get the fuck out there and put some pavement under your shoes. There is no prize for winning NaNoWriMo, because the victory is a personal one. Some people may discover they have a talent. Others may only get down in writing the stories their grandmothers have been telling over Thanksgiving dinner for years.

Ever heard the phrase "Just do it"? Well, JohnE. Sometimes that's all there is to it.



I withdraw the term ‘colossally stupid’, as it was probably overkill. ‘Incredibly silly’ would have sufficed. Let’s instead go with ‘remarkably dopey’.

What I find remarkably dopey about NaNoWriMo (aside from its annoying abbreviation) is the notion that writing massive amounts of crap within a certain time limit is a good thing for writers and for writing. How does encouraging quantity over quality make people better writers? A month’s worth of poorly typed crap is a month’s worth of poorly typed crap. It’s possible that some writers, furiously tappety-tapping away on their Macs as the clock ticks away and the days rush by, may very well work through some bad habit or literary tic that plagues their work, but this is made more unlikely if they’re concentrated on meeting a deadline and not on the quality of their output.

Writing is not the same thing as running a marathon, and ‘getting the fuck out there’ should be the natural result of one’s desire to simply write. If some people need an Internet stunt to get kick their creative instincts into gear, well, heaven help us if we are ever forced to read their work. Likewise, the notion that becoming a writer requires namby-pamby ‘encouragement’ from kind and patient passersby is gag inducing.

As far as ‘just do it’ goes (and yes, I’m familiar with the term – it’s an ad slogan, which fits in quite nicely with the crass banality of NaNoWriMo), there are all sorts of things I could “just do”, but as I think there’s very little artistic merit to my bathroom habits, I’ll decline to share them with you. Which brings me to my final point: why in heaven’s name would I or anyone else want to be subjected to amateurish crap and, worse, amateurish crap that is shoveled out in a month’s time? I’m betting that most of NaNoWriMo’s participants are already assured of their burgeoning and astonishing talents, and see the contest as a chance to show off and perhaps become famous, so crabby fuddy-duds like myself are unlikely to ruin their fun.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
Shake and Bake Central, Eurozone - Sunday, October 19 2003 1:35:7

Ron's Silver Surfer Rumors
Rob, this SILVER SURFER news is sickening. Back when I still looked upwards to consider the gum stuck under restaurant counter tops, wondering if there was still any sugar in there, I was also reading all the Marvel stuff. Of all of it, the panel that stands out clearest in my memory is a half page of the Surfer reclining on an asteroid with head thrown back after smashing himself repeatedly and hopelessly against the barrier of Galactus, at apparently near light speeds, invulnerable and powerless. His eyes were just black pits and his hand stuck out of the page and the fingers bent awkwardly in not quite the right directions.

The aftermath of his failure to escape back into the galaxy, the unhappiness that he felt in viewing the dull primitivism of earthlings, and his bitterness in considereing a future with nobody at all but them to be with set the whole tone of the book. Which to me at the time seemed as profound and moody as the works of all depressed nineteenth century russian authors rolled into one.

So now we’re going to improve everything by eliminating all but the silver milliskin full-body tights and aerodynamically challenged surfboard? It makes you wonder how people with money got rich in the first place.

Stan B. <slbcompany@hotmail.com>
For now....Parkdale, OR - Saturday, October 18 2003 23:42:10

A Movie Review
Hi guys and gals. I took my recently widoed mother to the movies today. We watched RUNAWAY JURY and though it was not
THE FIRM (both novels written by John Grisham)...it could almost make anyone run for the hills when they get the summons for jury duty. Anyhow...it gave both of us a little unreality of what we had to deal with in the last seven days. Both Cusack and Hackman did fantastic jobs of acting, but the grand prize would have to go to Dustin Hoffman. I suppose when you reach sixty and have been in over-the-top roles since THE GRADUATE...He has the right
to be idolized...just a little bit. The man is pure genius...even if he is liberal...haha..gotcha Frank and Alex, I just had to put that in! Catch ya all later...bye for now and for you guys and gals on the liberal side... ;)

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Saturday, October 18 2003 22:50:6

I read SEVEN WHO FLED on Harlan's recommendation, and found it boiled down to page after page of "And then things got worse." But well-written and eloquent expression of same...!

- Saturday, October 18 2003 20:47:25


Whadizzit whichyou, kid? Din't I TOLD YOU to start reading Prokosch with THE SEVEN WHO FLED? Why'd you innore me and start with his LAST BOOK before he died?

Go to the dreaded internet. You'll find a cheapo hc or pb of THE SEVEN WHO FLED. Read it. Your poppa and I are sick with worry bowchu?

wit luff, yr. Jewish angel, Herman

Joseph J. Finn <JosephFinn@mac.com>
Chicago, IL, IL - Saturday, October 18 2003 19:37:40


Are you on some really fun painkillers right now?

On the plus side, you reminded me to buy a copy of "American Music." (Thank you, Apple Music Store.)


- Saturday, October 18 2003 18:46:53

Dammit, I meant FICCIONES!

Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
- Saturday, October 18 2003 18:45:28


"Today I picked up A PERSONAL ANTHOLOGY. *Is this a good introduction to Borges?*"

Yes, indeed it is. It gives you a nice overview of his short fiction, non-fiction, poetry, musings, notes, etc. I'm thinking of moving on to his "Fictiones" next.


Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Saturday, October 18 2003 17:32:57


A PERSONAL ANTHOLOGY is an excellent intro to Borges. I'd also recommend LABYRINTHS (available as a Modern Library hardcover, I think), FICCIONES (Everyman's Library) and DREAMTIGERS.

Read any of these and you'll probably want to scrounge up all the Borges you can. The translations by di Giovanni from Dutton are out-of-print now, I think, but Viking has three volumes available: Collected Fictions (all the fiction unless I've missed a few listings), Selected Poems and Selected Non-Fictions. Pricy, but worth every dime; I think all three are available in trade paper.

David Loftus,

Damon Knight's review of Fancies and Goodnights was the one that pointed me to Collier; the review's reprinted in In Search of Wonder. In it he said that Collier's work in "The Steel Cat" (if I'm remembering the story title correctly) made the death of a mouse seem as tragic as the murder of Desdemona; Knight wasn't kidding, and while I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, he wasn't off by much either. Damn, Collier could write. Why that one isn't on every required reading list in every high school in the country is beyond me.


Justin <thedogindiana@hotmail.com>
Tucson, AZ - Saturday, October 18 2003 17:14:32

~sigh~ I know I take my dad for granted a lot of the time. There's nothing quite like a little perspective, huh?

Anyway, I'm with John on this "novel writing in a month" business. I'm constantly surrounded by acid-chewing chowderheads who say they're taking a creative writing class because they need to get the motivation to write. My attitude is that if, in the normal run of things, you're unwilling to sit down every day and do the work, even for just an hour or two--and kick your own ass so hard over your material that the next time yo mama calls she complains about a pain in her posterior--you're a louse, a lazybones, doomed to failure. This Aiming Low business: folderol and codswallop! Which is not to say that I entirely disagree with Lynn when she says that this may be beneficial for a lot of people. That's fine. But I share John's revulsion at the whole exercise. "Quantity, not quality," they say. "Give yourself permission to make mistakes!" Yeah? Why don't I give myself permission to die poor, alone and unaccomplished as well? Feh.

That said, I am happy to report that I am no longer a Creative Writing major. I've had it with those nitwits (I'll spare you the details). Besides, I all but completed a Classical archaeology major in Europe last year. All I have to do is learn Latin and take a few classes on the Romans, then I'm done with the major requirements. What does one do with Latin and a Classical Civilization degree, you ask? Listen, ANYTHING has got to be more useful than a creative writing degree, so get off my back. I am formulating a plan as we speak: using a world atlas, push pins, and a little plastic ninja who represents Me. Egad, talk about stumbling through one's life like a visitor at LegoLand... though naturally I'm far too handsome and lovable to need worry about suffering consequences.

To switch tracks: when Harlan came to Phoenix he mentioned Borges in his lectures. I'd HEARD of him before (from Michael, I think) but never read him. Today I picked up A PERSONAL ANTHOLOGY. *Is this a good introduction to Borges?* It seemed like it would be, but I'd prefer to know for sure. There's nothing worse than getting a bad introduction to a good author. It happened to me with Frederic Prokosch, I think. I liked AMERICA, MY WILDERNESS at first, but then it lost me and I've been hesitant to crack open NINE DAYS TO MUKALLA, which was the only other book of his that I could find. On the other hand, I got one of the best introductions to an author ever when I discovered THEY DIE WITH THEIR BOOTS CLEAN, by Kersh. The First Time matters a helluva lot, I think. So let me know.



(p.s. halfway through the semester and I've only JUST gotten my financial aid. Meaning the HERC check is, at last, in the mail.)

Scott Reeston
- Saturday, October 18 2003 14:54:0


Taking a minute from building the perfect noshes to consume while my Habs put the perfect beating on those evil Maple Leafs to respond. Die, Toronto, Die...

No, I didn't mean for Toronto to die; it's German. Pronounced "Dee", y'know. Thank You for the saving tip, Sideshow Bob...

I think Mel's afraid of the coming moment when Cassie is in her kindergarden playgroup, singing "American Music" by the Violent Femmes as she fingerpaints her masterpiece, when some strident self righteous Politically Correct Ubermom overhears the line about doing too many drugs, swoons, then raises a hue and cry over the offense she takes from the song. I allay the wife's fears by reminding Mel that Ubermom will likely have deep pockets, quickly drained by the lawsuit we launch suggesting that the stifling of my poor sweet innocent's artistic talents will result in a lifetime of traumatic suffering, culminating in Cassie's rejection of aesthetic truth in order to pursue a career of bingo caller or worse, either cosmetic aesthetician or city councillor. Christ, we'll be rolling in it!

Nothing wrong with the tune, or Camper Van Beethoven, either. Whenever ma petit belle oiseau would fuss in her crib, I'd pull out the guitar and play them for her (throw in some Lemonheads, too. You want your kids to have the right tools to get ahead in life.), she'd settle right down. For a while, I had to play Townshend's "Blue, Red and Gray" on my ukelele over and over again to please her.

I guess that's my two cents on childrearing. Love and enjoy them for as long as possible, but make sure they can fly when it's time to leave the nest.

Nah nah nah nah,
Nah nah nah nah,
Hey hey hey,

Just practicing, pathetic Leaf fans.


Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Saturday, October 18 2003 13:16:21

Rabit Hole # 33
A very informative issue. I wonder if there'll be any VHS copies of "The Waldorf Conference" available to purchase...


Jon Stover
Canada - Saturday, October 18 2003 10:16:28

But Melissa, "Take the Skinheads Bowling" is a great song!

Cheers, Jon

Melissa Reeston
- Saturday, October 18 2003 10:6:12

I'm not going to make any suggestion for Miah, in the belief that the best advice you can give on parenting is none at all. Each child requires the parent to differentiate in their approach to the little one, and since Miah isn't mine I can't speak to what their needs. All I can relate is our experiences with raising our brood (a dry humoured nod to Cronenberg).

We have three kids ourselves; 11, 8, and 5. All three of our kids have house chores and schoolwork, which gets priority. They bus to school, an hour and fifteen minutes one way, catching the bus at 7:30 am, returning to the house at 4:30. Homework is completed as soon as the kids get home and have a snack, with Scotty and I helping. Then comes work chores, duties they finish in order to get pocket money. Danielle and Joel both play hockey, so that means 5:00 am wakeup calls 4 days a week for practice and games. Then, friends and social activities, movies, shopping. And, they seem fine, able to soldier on without complaint. After reading Sheryl's post we sat them down to ask them what they thought. No compaints, even when they were pressed.

In our case, paying attention to the kids seems to be the way to ascertain what level of activity in school, home, sports, and social interaction they require so that they feel engaged, not overloaded. And, like adults, they'll tell you in myriad ways when the burden becomes too great. Scotty and I listen, then see if we can help our little ones to rebalance the schedule or help them to make a decision on what is to be given up in order to stabilize the situation. Once my kids feel the equilibrium has been recreated, things go on as usual, in other words Chaos Central.

Scotty and I ensure that our kids understand the priorities and enforce the need for education, personal hygene, nutrition, physical activity and proper social behaviour somewhat stringently. They have a lifetime of living ahead of them, a world which for better of worse will necessitate the child to adopt conventions. Only the ones that are necessary, however; I want my little ones to think and act for themselves.

For example, last week I sat with my mother for tea and chat, whereupon my youngest comes into the kitchen to play with her stuffies in the kitchen, and starts singing "Take the Skinheads Bowling". You should've seen the quizzical look on my mother's face.

Most would blame society. I blame my husband.


Tracy Garnett <tgarnett25@hotmail.com>
Ludlow, Kentucky - Saturday, October 18 2003 7:28:24

Well, I sent an expedition into my attic (literally; it wasn't too bad until the reticulated anaconda's, and the head-hunting aboriginals showed up with pike, and Ragu tomatoe paste). I found my copy of the illustrated edition of "Vic & Blood" by Harlan Ellison, and Richard Corben. I also lucked into finding my copy of the Ciardi translation of _Dante's Inferno_, and _The Complete John Milton_.

Still nothing on the long, lost installments of "Night, And The Enemy." I did find a guy named Livingstone, who has been living up there all these decades, and never told me about it. I'll give him thirty days to pay up his back rent, then it's out on his kiester.

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Saturday, October 18 2003 6:29:43

Gosh, Stan, I'm sorry. Which is no consolation, I'm sure--there probably is no consolation, just the knowledge that the ache, which will always be there, will someday, somehow, lessen.

Your commitment to write each post here while wearing a mental smiley face is brave. And it's inspiring too. The small differences revealed in the discussions here look petty and meaningless next to your loss.

Thanks for telling us. Be well.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Saturday, October 18 2003 5:48:50

Miah's Life


I have five small kids and a wife named Linda, and we all moved to France 9 months ago. Our oldest is 6 yrs. and has now spent the first two years of her school life in three different countries using two different languages. She’s doing great, well on the way to bi-lingual and happy to go see her friends at school every day, but at the moments of change she also asks us the question «What happened to my LIFE?». Linda and I have asked ourselves the same question! «What has happened to our LIFE?»

My point is that Miah is confronting his first cataclysmic change, and the job of his parents is to help him learn to find the opportunities and deal with the pain. I think Stan’s latest post shows someone of the very highest quality doing just that. If I succeed in instilling in my children that degree of character and grace under stress I’ll have done the very best that a parent can do.

The worst response possible would be to see him as a victim of the schools, and confirm that a terrible loss of innocence has happened and that it’s not his fault. What’s happening is, he’s getting an education. It’s up to the parents to make sure it’s a good one.

Dorrie posted some options for hunting opportunities to improve Miah’s situation. Here are a few other ways to put yourself in a position to change his situation for the better:

 Talk to Miah and make sure that he is not unhappy because of abuse at school – getting shoved around or ostracized by other kids, or being talked down to or made to feel stupid by an incompetent teacher.
 Educate yourself about age appropriate stages of development in education and become a good judge of whether the school’s workload is reasonable. If Miah is coming along just fine, go ahead and ignore a little excess homework. The French are insane about homework, and the kids are at school from 8:30-5:30 every day!
 Get to know his teachers and school through activity in PTA or other in-school programs.
 Organize with other parents and push for change if you see the need – teacher, classroom, curriculum.
 Change schools if necessary: Montessori, Private, Public, Religious - it all comes down to individual teachers and whether their approach suits Miah’s needs. My brother couldn’t afford private education, but has a gifted daughter; his wife got a job in the front office of the best private school in town, in exchange for tuition for their kids.
 Invite classmates home so he has good friends at school.

Finally, I would avoid home-schooling unless there is absolutely no other reasonably acceptable option. Only you know your resources and abilities, but it is very likely that somewhere between 2+2=4 and erf(x); between «Charlotte’s Web» and Steve Dooner’s World Lit Syllabus you will cease being your child’s best educational alternative. The average parent, in spite of all the love and good intentions, is not going to get the job done.

Good luck!

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Friday, October 17 2003 22:15:14

Stan. . .

You show your father great respect, Stan. I think we're all glad to have you here too. I offer you my sincere condolences on your loss.

Steve Dooner

- Friday, October 17 2003 19:21:25

Rick Wyatt: I've been perusing your "rants". Why do they stop in February 2002? Have you given up ranting or do you just do it elsewhere? (and if the latter, in what public forum might one find them?)

Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
Lakewood, Colorado - Friday, October 17 2003 19:2:49

Stan, I just wanted to give my condolences for both your losses.

As for Mr. Willie Nelson and his singing schnozzola, I know he doesn't sing through his nose like some C&W singers, but there is a nasal resonance to his voice that is more the result of him using his whole instrument when singing. To me, it only adds to his tenor voice. Thus making "singing through his nose" sound wonderful.


Stan B. <slbcompany@hotmail.com>
Oakridge (for now its Parkdale), Oregon - Friday, October 17 2003 16:23:18

Thank yous
Thanks to all of you who responded to my note on here about my father's death. You see....my younger brother was shot and killed in the line of duty while working for the Oregon Park Service...on April 27, 1999...my dad's 76th birthday was the next day...dad died on October 10, and was buried on my late
brother's birthday...how is that for weird?

Anyway...There is no politdal correctness or incorrectness when it comes to death. Each of us who breathe air and walk on this planet has but one appointment...a day in which they breathe their last. But being human...we try to avoid that least breath
as long as we can.

Let it be known...Dad was a staunch working man's Democrat...and unlike his oldest son...stayed a Democrat all his life. Believe me Frank and Alex, he and I had some rousing talks about politics. It did not matter though...we loved each other as father and son and no matter the outcome we always shook hands.

So guys and gals..I admonish you to patch up all differences between siblings...parents...close relatives. For you never know when they will be taken from you...and once taken you won't be able hug, kiss, apologize or anything...for they will be gone.

I can tell you all...I like being on Harlan's deco page and chatting with you. What I say is my opinion and I try like hell not to demean any of you, look down on you or anything negative. From now on it will be so doing. Don't get me wrong I will pipe up when something rankles my fur...but at the end of my response I will always put a ....:) (smiley face) See ya all later


- Friday, October 17 2003 15:20:30

Excerpted from the National Novel Writing Month FAQ:

Q. If I'm just writing 50,000 words of crap, why bother? Why not just write a real novel later, when I have more time?

A. There are three reasons.

1) If you don't do it now, you probably never will. Novel writing is mostly a "one day" event. As in "One day, I'd like to write a novel." Here's the truth: 99% of us, if left to our own devices, would never make the time to write a novel. It's just so far outside our normal lives that it constantly slips down to the bottom of our to-do lists. The structure of NaNoWriMo forces you to put away all those self-defeating worries and START. Once you have the first five chapters under your belt, the rest will come easily. Or painfully. But it will come. And you'll have friends to help you see it through to 50k.

******2) Aiming low is the best way to succeed. With entry-level novel writing, shooting for the moon is the surest way to get nowhere. With high expectations, everything you write will sound cheesy and awkward. Once you start evaluating your story in terms of word count, you take that pressure off yourself. And you'll start surprising yourself with a great bit of dialogue here and a ingenious plot twist there. Characters will start doing things you never expected, taking the story places you'd never imagined. There will be much execrable prose, yes. But amidst the crap, there will be beauty. A lot of it. *****

*****3) Art for art's sake does wonderful things to you. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you want to take naps and go places wearing funny pants. Doing something just for the hell of it is a wonderful antidote to all the chores and "must-dos" of daily life. Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and stupid, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous stupidity into our lives.
JohnE: Might I suggest you read a little bit further and investigate a little bit deeper before you go calling something like this 'colossal stupidity'. To me, baseball seems to be colossal stupidity, especially when one fan is getting death threats for catching a foul ball. Jeeza, people. It's a fucking game. To me, doing NaNoWriMo is a way to stretch your writing legs without having to meet unattainable goals. You never know if you can run the marathon until you get the fuck out there and put some pavement under your shoes. There is no prize for winning NaNoWriMo, because the victory is a personal one. Some people may discover they have a talent. Others may only get down in writing the stories their grandmothers have been telling over Thanksgiving dinner for years.

Ever heard the phrase "Just do it"? Well, JohnE. Sometimes that's all there is to it.

Yours in service to the word,

- Friday, October 17 2003 15:8:0

"Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake: gory retread. Waste of celluloid. If you've seen the original the remake's plot will be obvious. "Runaway Jury:" need to suspend disbelief, but it's a fairly enjoyable way to spend two hours ---great actors chewing the scenery. Friend told me "Mystic River" was great, but too long by 10 to 20 minutes. She thought Penn, Bacon and Robbins fantastic. Go see "School of Rock," "Kill Bill" and "Lost in Translation." Three marvellous films.

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Friday, October 17 2003 14:43:54

Texas Chainsaw
Just rent the original.

I'm waiting on the remake until I hear what some of the other diehard horror fans my age or older think of it. Michael Bay produced it, and that's not a good sign. Even if I do end up seeing it I'll probably wait for video--I like to do my part to discourage the constant remakes, even though it probably doesn't mean much to clowns who remake the films whether someone sees it in the theater or rents it on video. I just hate the mindset that any movie more than 20 years old needs to be remade so that the mind-numbed youth of today can appreciate it.

Joseph J. Finn
- Friday, October 17 2003 13:45:3


You may want to skip "Texas Chainsaw." Hell, don't see it, and stick it to a studo that would want to release such a waste of time, money and energy.

Frank Church
- Friday, October 17 2003 12:51:23

All the best Stan, in your hour of need. We may stray politically, but pain is the universal itch.

Be good.


Brian, Willie Nelson has good qualities as a person, but singing is not one of those. The wheeze coming from his snotty nose could blow up a Macy's baloon. But I do respect the guy; especially his stand on legalizing and smoking weed.

I'd pass the doobie, but this is good shit. Lol.


Bjork is a Goddess; and her original voice is an earthquake. There is a child like beauty to her every vocal thrust, that gets me googly. That personal beauty is an arsenal that knocks down all other boats.

Me and Chris L at least agree on this.


Movie heaven this weekend; Runaway Jury, Texas Chainsaw, Mystic River...I may have to see them all at once. And Kill Bill again to piss off Chris.


Cindy, I looked at the Windsor, and found it ugly. I can see Mr. Cunningham, Richie's Dad, driving it, but not you, ya fine hunk of southern charm.

And never forget the rules: Only men love cars. Hoo hoo.


Fucking, Goddamn, stinking, piss drunk, skunk fuckin, back alley abortions known as the Boston fucking Red Sox SUCKKKK!!

Fire the coach, unleash the hounds. Get some duct tape for Todd's mouth.

Go Fish.

JohnE <jwilliams76@starpower.net>
Falls Church, Virginny - Friday, October 17 2003 12:16:4

National Novel Writing Month
I'd like to take a moment to share a notable example of colossal stupidity, one which I thought the denizens of this particular nook would find of particular interest.

I was referred by a friend to a site which touts something called "National Novel Writing Month". Sounded interesting, but upon visiting the site I found myself slack-jawed by the FAQ:


What is NaNoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over talent and craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

"Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over talent and craft..."

"It's all about quantity, not quality."

"will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing."

Holy guacamole.

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Friday, October 17 2003 11:38:12

Stan: I'm very sorry for your loss & will keep a good thought for you and your father today.


Jon Stover
- Friday, October 17 2003 11:18:2

Stan: My condolences. I'd add Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" to David's recommendations, especially if you can find an audio version of it read by Thomas himself. Thomas read many of his poems as if they were incantations, which seemed to help when I was driving around with them on the tape player after my grandmother died.

Take care, Jon

Tony Rabig <arabig@par1.net>
Parsons, KS - Friday, October 17 2003 11:3:4


Been there and know the feeling. My condolences too.


Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Friday, October 17 2003 10:50:29

My condolences, Stan.


- Friday, October 17 2003 10:16:14

Overscheduled kid

Regarding your friend's little boy: I don't know how far he lives from school, but this kid would be much less worn-out by the end of his day if he didn't spend two whole hours on the bus. Can she phone the transportation dept and see if they can change his bus/ bus route? Failing that, can she drive him to school or pick him up? 7:00 out the door is pretty damned early for a kid that age. In our district the gradeschool kids get a bus between 8 and 8:30, the middle schoolers between 7:15 and 7:45, and only the high school kids at 7 or before.

My son is 8 years old and he used to have a 40 minute bus ride which was plain ridiculous because we live 1.5 miles from school. They've since changed it and now his bus ride is only 10 minutes.

Also what constitutes "chores"? More than just setting the dinner table and taking out he trash? maybe they could cut down on the weekday chores.

Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL - Friday, October 17 2003 10:3:48


Jeezus, I'm sorry to hear about your Dad's passing. My heart goes out to you. Take care, pal.

- Friday, October 17 2003 10:0:24


Please add my condolances to the list.


One thing is soitin' - ya don't pander ta blue collar tastes.

There is certainly some fun, interesting stuff in there. I took two modern lit classes in the past myself; and most fiction I read on my own is confined to the last 400 years (NON-fiction is another matter). I never did get 'round to the ancient Babylonian stuff or Sumerian literature. (Even after the inspiration I had long ago from Harlan's Outer Limits episode.) At some point I will do so.

Mark, I imagine, has an interesting time checking out the filmed re-interpretations of Shakespeare (from Richard III to Titus to Forbidden Planet!)

Sheryl <viciousbitch@earthlink.net>
LA, CA - Friday, October 17 2003 9:45:34

Stan: You will be in my prayers, my friend. You voice my daily fear. My dad has heart problems, and I'm almost afraid to answer the phone, for fear that it will be my mother, telling me that it's happened. I can't even imagine what it will be like to be in your place; I'm so sorry.

On the topic of families, I have a question that maybe someone here has a good answer for. My best friend called me last night, stumped and stupified, and I'm also at a loss.

Her son started first grade just after Labor Day. This is a boy who loved kindergarten. He would get on the bus at 9 am, go to school from 10 to 1:30, ride the bus home, arriving about 2:15. He would then play with his friends, do his homework, do his chores...you know the whole kid drill. A happy kid, our Miah.

Now he gets up at 6:30 every morning to catch a bus at 7:00 am, to be to school to start at 8:15. He's at school until 3:00, when he gets on the bus to come home, arriving at 4:00. He has to do homework, eat dinner, do chores, and be in bed by 8:30.

Last night, he says his prayers, gets into bed and as his mother tucks him in, he says, (apparently most pitifully, from her imitation) "Mama, what happened to my LIFE?"

It's not funny. What does a responsible person tell a 7 year old who's feeling like his life has disappeared? You can't laugh bitterly in his little face and say, "This is as good as it gets, pal. Enjoy it while you can!"

My God. No wonder I'm so determined I'll homeschool any kid I ever have.

"Mama, what happened to my LIFE?" I'm just haunted!

Any reasonable answers?

- Friday, October 17 2003 8:47:56


Add my condolences to those already mustered. I know what it is to lose a father. When I was 12, a long time ago, more than half a century. Not a day passes, not in all those years, that I don't consider the enormous abyss in my life. Truly, there are no words that succor, but try this, for what it's worth: you had him for a long, long time. Your store of memories is better-stocked than for many others. As I've said frequently, "Life is not a comparison of chamber of horrors," so these well-intended thoughts won't ease the hurt, nothing will (though the ache dulls to supportability as time passes), but the treasure of his being with you all that time should not be lightly valued.

All best otherwise, and welcome back,

Yr. pal, Harlan Ellison

Melissa Reeston
- Friday, October 17 2003 8:35:43


I know this is just a few words from a stranger, but please accept my sadness for what you must be going through. I lost my Daddy to a heart attack earlier this year, and am finally starting to walk away from it. I hope the pain goes quickly for you, and the memories remain.

The best from Scott and I,


David Loftus <dloft59@earthink.net>
Portland, Oregon - Friday, October 17 2003 8:7:10


The bad news, guys, is that every time you use the name Harlan Ellison on this Web site (which constitutes publishing), you owe the trademark holder a royalty. The good news is that the money is going to a great cause: sticking it to AOL. (JUST KIDDING!)

In preparation for my "Literature in Performance" reading at the local Borders on Monday evening, I've been plowing through a collection of stories by John Collier, somebody who's been mentioned repeatedly on the periphery of my awareness for years. This guy is dynamite! Tart, witty, highly imaginative (the stories include the adventures of a flea in Hollywood; a devil's attempt to seduce a gorgeous angel, whereupon he runs afoul of a psychiatrist; a young man who has all his teeth removed so he can kill and temporarily replace his wealthy uncle; a man who falls desperately in love with a window dummy; you get the idea), occasionally macabre . . . and of course mostly out of print. The edition of _Fancies and Goodnights_ I am reading has an admiring introduction by Ray Bradbury, who discovered Collier at the age of 22 and says, among other things, "I can name no other writer in the twentieth century whose work has given me such constant pleasure."

Stan: Chin up, friend. It does get better with time. Allow me to recommend a lovely pick-me-up. Several weeks after my father's sudden, violent, and most untimely death in the summer of 1996, I happened to catch Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac" and he read a poem that seemed to speak directly to me in my sorrow.

I don't recall the title of the particular poem, but I rushed out and bought "Selected Poems" by Diana Der-Hovanessian, where you will find it. She's an Armenian-American, so there are poems about the trials of her people, but this one is about the loss of one's father. The refrain is "When your father dies...", and it describes what various cultures -- French, Germans, British, etc. -- say happens when you lose your father. (The one that comes to mind is the English: "When your father dies . . . you join his club you swore you wouldn't." It's very sweet, occasionally amusing, and most consoling.

- Friday, October 17 2003 6:45:22

"But unlike most people (and, sadly, like most writers, who are merely jumped-up amateurs), who stumble through their own lives like visitors at LegoLand, I extrapolate."

Words to live by. A philosophical statement if there ever was one and which bespeaks of the qualities of which we should live by: professionalism and responsibility.

See? There's always some nugget of gold to gain from this site.

A jumped-up amateur,

(Who also thinks that Grady Little should get his own World Series ring for assisting the Yankees when they win the Series.)

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Friday, October 17 2003 6:22:21

Stan: Losing your father's the worst. I wish I could come up with something good and meaningful that'll give you some help, but the best I can do is offer condolences. Get through this. It'll make your old man proud.

Cindy: Here are some pictures of other Chrysler Windsors, 1950 if possible:
Best of all:
I envy you for seeing one up close.

Re Willie Nelson: He doesn't sing through his nose, gang. He has a clear, vibrant tenor, and his phrasing is as expressive as Frank Sinatra's.

I wish I could use this opportunity to vent about something at work, but I'd better save it for a website rant.

Mr. Alex Jay Berman <alexjay@earthlink.net>
Philadelphia, - Friday, October 17 2003 0:27:57

STAN: My condolences on your loss.

TEXAS - Thursday, October 16 2003 22:28:14

Tonight I fell in love.

I pulled into the local convenience store and saw an automobile that literally took my breath away. My audible gasp was followed by, " Oh my God-- that's the most amazing thing I've ever seen". Next my 15 year old son Beau said, " Tell the guy behind the wheel."

I grinned, still staring in profound appreciation at the perfect, cream colored vision gleaming before me.

As I gaped, the guy glanced up and saw me. He flashed a smile not unlike the Cheshire cat.

I stepped around to the drivers side. "My God!" I said, " I don't know what to say! This is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

He continued to grin and said, " Thank you, that means alot to me."

I said, " I've never seen anything that even remotely compares to this. "

He said, "It's a dream come true, for me."

I shook my head in dumb-struck awe.

He looks past me to Beau and says, " When you get your license, son; get an old car. You'll never regret it."

Beau was standing there looking like he'd been hit by the Sicilian thunder bolt as well.

I said, " Who restored it?"

He said, " Nobody. This is all original."

I shook my head again, stunned.

Finally I asked the question..."What is it?"

He smiled and said, " It's a 1950 Chrysler Windsor".

FLAWLESS, cream colored paintjob that glowed like mother of pearl, the chrome looked like solid mercury. White wall tires gleamed, the apolstery was rich and plush beyond imagination

Damn, I've seen heaven on wheels.


Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Thursday, October 16 2003 22:24:52

Fagin the Jew
Odd that I’ve heard two separate mentions of « Fagin the Jew » since picking out « Oliver Twist » at random to re-read just last week. Takes a few pages to warm up to the Victorian sentimentality of Dickens, but each time I read him he ends up being better than I remember. How’s this for tight :

« A group of humble mourners entered the gate: wearing white favors; for the corpse was young. They stood uncovered by a grave; and there was a mother – a mother once – among the weeping train. But the sun shone brightly, and the birds sang on. »

A whole story, complete in two sentences. And it passes through Oliver’s point of view without fanfare, doing nothing to advance the plot ; another half inch of text pushed into that month’s installment.

Anyway, thanks for making mention of the new novel. I look forward to giving it a go.

Mark Walsh
- Thursday, October 16 2003 21:38:1

And yet another moment of agony tonight for Sox fans. I don't know, I must be growing up: I'm not as despondent as I have been about past losses. And tonight's loss still doesn't wipe out the fact that this Sox team was a helluva lotta fun to watch.

So congrats to the Yanks, youze bums won it fair and square.


Stan B <slbcompany@hotmail.com>
Oakridge, Oregon - Thursday, October 16 2003 21:13:36

Hi Gang...Well...It has been a while. But death seems to interfere with daily life. You see...my dad passed away quite suddenly from a heart attack on the 10th and like I have said before my puter has been giving me problems. We had the funeral yesterday...so now as AHNOLD WOULD SAY...I AM BACK! i am now on my folk's puter for at least a week so you might here from me before I move the whole shabang from here in Parkdale, to my home in Oakridge. Catch ya all later.a


- Thursday, October 16 2003 18:55:51

Why did the chicken cross the road?
--To record a duet with Willie Nelson.

(sorry sorry sorry. Not nearly erudite enough for this forum. Actually that started as a folkie joke about the Chieftains.)

Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
Lakewood, Colorado - Thursday, October 16 2003 18:39:46

Willie Nelson is the only one in the world who can sing through his nose and make it sound wonderful.

I reference to Willie singing with any bipedal humonoid lifeform he runs across, I remember a local radio duo, Steven B. and The Hawk who did a parody of the Willie Nelson and Julio Inglesias song, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before", titled, "To all the girls I've Had Before".

"Oh, the record's really selling,"
"And it's doing very welllll...."
"Better buy it 'fore it starts smelllinnggg...."
"...and we sell it to K-Tel...."


Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Thursday, October 16 2003 16:42:32

Willie Nelson....
Willie Nelson is one of the few singers I've heard whom I believe could sing anything and make it work, though I wish he would lose the urge to duet with every single living being on the face of the earth.

As far as Bjork---she's never done it for me. I liked some of the songs on her first record and that's been it. I tried like crazy to like her music but it just doesn't work for me--I think the songs just aren't put together well.

But generally, I find more musical satisfaction these days in artists of the past. The newer stuff just doesn't speak to me for the most part.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Thursday, October 16 2003 14:18:4

World Literature I Syllabus

Hello Rob,

Since you asked, My World Lit. class is tonight and here's what I'm teaching (in full and in excerpts) this semester.

Near Eastern Mythology
Egyptian Leiden Hymn
Enuma Elish
Code of Hammurabi
Egyptian Negative Confession from the Book of the Dead
Egyptian Hymn to Aten
Song of Deborah
The Book of Genesis
Biblical Laws
Psalm 8, Psalm 23, Psalm 104, Psalm 137
Wisdom Literature (Job, Ecclesiastes, Jonah)
The Song of Solomon
Assorted Creation Myths from around the world: Thompson Indian Myth, Pima Legends, Indonesioan Myths, Popol Vuh, Hesiod, Rg Veda, Bassari Legend of Togo etc.)
The Upanishads
The Iliad (in excerpts)
The Odyssey (in full)
The Homeric Hymn to Demeter
Sappho and sapphic poetry
Oedipus Rex
Pre-Socratic Philosophers (quotations)
Excerpts from The Republic and The Symposium
The Apology
The Book of Songs from China
The Story of the Buddha (from various texts)
Confucius' Analects
Tao Te Ching
The Bhagavad Gita
Virgil's Aeneid (excerpted)
Ovid's Metamorphosis
Petronus' Satyricon
Excerpts from the Gospels
Jesus Analogs from Persian and Greek Mystery Traditions
St. Augustine's Confessions (abridged)

That's it for World Literature I. Any suggestions? You should also see the syllabus for World Lit. II!

I'm now off to class,

Steve Dooner

(and Rob, you should see what fun Mark Walsh has teaching Shakespeare)

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Thursday, October 16 2003 13:59:17

Slight Change of Plan

I'll be absoutely fascinated to find out if this was the right thing to do or not, but checking Amazon.fr showed only one copy of the Accordéon,l’Intégrale left, and since it is a limited edition, I went ahead and had it shipped to the HERC address.

If everything goes well regarding international shipping to PO boxes, it *should* arrive next week with all six of the inédit Piaf songs inside.

Hope you don't end up with two!

Bill Householder
Knoxville, TN - Thursday, October 16 2003 13:52:33

Thanks for the information. And, he says chagrined and rightly so, for making me feel like a big schmuckola for not digging into it further; I mean, I work in a _library_, ferchrissakes, but we young'uns tend to take the easy way out. I'll try to be better in the future.


Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Thursday, October 16 2003 13:22:2

Harlan's defense of Edith Piaf brings to mind something that's been bugging me lately: Bjork. Now, I like Bjork, I think she's hot, and she's clearly a unique musical talent... but has anyone else noticed that her vocal range is actually pretty limited? That when she tries to do a "big voice" thing, where she has to hit higher registers or work up some severe vocal power, she seems to hit some kind of ceiling that makes everything sound more like shouting?

This wouldn't bug me as much as it should, if it weren't for my coming across several reviews of her work which rhapsodize about her "ability" to sing almost anything. Really, I wonder: when I hear her trying to do a big-band, Rosemary Clooney-Shirley Bassey sort of thing, all I hear is a teenage girl's yelping about why she can't borrow the car. Is it my imagination, or can't music critics tell the difference between singing and shouting?

I'll probably hunt down the Piaf soon: I'm getting a financial windfall soon, which means some splurging. In the meantime, I've developed a true admiration for the voice of Willie Nelson.

Oh, and in honor of Boss Day:

Frank Church
- Thursday, October 16 2003 13:11:15

Melissa, maybe I feel the music is too old fashioned for my ears, who knows, but I may listen closer next time. But for now, my Bologna sandwich is half eaten, and I am really famished.


How pathetic were the Cubs? The Pitcher should have been taken out after that first home run. Do not blame the geeky guy with the glasses, blame the fucking coach.

I have this bad feeling that the geeky guy will get hurt. I am worried for is safety. No Joke.

How much do you want to bet he was a Science Fiction fan.


Bush and Aanold had a lot to talk about today I heard. Bush told him that he believed in fitness, because he was an avid jogger, and Aanold told Bush, "yea, I molested and fondled a few joggers in my time."


"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy."
Ernest Benn

- Thursday, October 16 2003 12:5:45

Harlan Ellison as registered trademark
Damn! We're gonna have to choose another name for the baby.

Melissa Reeston
- Thursday, October 16 2003 11:49:16

Finder & Mr. Ellison:

The ten disc set is available. Scott apparently ordered it a couple of months ago, and according to our latest invoice of Amazon order shipments from the company it is on its way to us from France.

We're continuing to look through Quebec area record shops, but even Archimbaud Records has drawn a blank on this one. If you still have trouble, let us know. Perhaps something could be worked out.

Frank, I'd never even heard of Piaf until I'd met Scotty. Her voice is marvellous, as original and powerful in its fashion as Billie Holliday or Bessie Smith was in theirs. Might I suggest you listen again?


- Thursday, October 16 2003 10:44:30


BILL HOUSEHOLDER of Knoxville, Tennessee:

Marilyn Monroe is a registered trademark. Elvis Presley is a registered trademark. Any Warhol is a registered trademark.

Had you read the indicia page in the Black Widowers book, you'd have seen my copyright entry specifies that "Harlan Ellison is a Registered Trademark of The Kilimanjaro Corporation."

The reason for this public and legal codification of ownership of my own name is hardly as mouth-droppingly confusing as you indicate in your post. Doing a little homework on the topic, and not always rushing to the internet as if it were mommy-who-has-all-duh-answers, might serve your education more fulsomely. but, since you asked ...

We live in ever-more-complex technological times; the shapes of "emerging problems" are only beginning to loom large in the fog. And as Pasteur said, "Chance favors the prepared mind." So I am extrapolating what scams and snafus MAY manifest themselves, and have moved to circumvent them before I get snookered and learn that some electronic poltroon has cobbled up a new way to screw the creator out of his/her creative rights. (Having employed this m.o. in re copyright registration years ago, has provided me the status to sue in my case against AOL.)

There are website nomenclature squatters who misappropriate valuable referents and key words; rampant internet piracy flourishes and the big corporations aid and abet; misguided and jumped-up fanboys like The Electronic Frontier assume the rapacious positions of screwloose pseudo-Libertarians and think everything should be free (unless it belongs to them, of course); unscrupulous and even inimical publishers issue books with one's name blown so out of proportion on the cover that it appears to be a new full-length work by an author who only has one of a number of stories in the book (ref.: the recent lawsuit won by editor and anthologist Otto Penzler against Michael Viner's New Millennium Publishing for the exaggerated use of David Baldacci's name on a Penzler-edited sports-mystery collection); corporate greed permits behemoths to misappropriate what they wish, and get away with it by dint of "deep pockets," thus making litigation -- like my KICK Internet Piracy suit -- beyond consideration for poorer defendants. The average twink.

I have no idea how valuable my name on an item may be in the future, but for the sake of my wife, my estate, and my corporate persona, we felt registering my name made preventative sense.

It does, I confess, look wonky at the moment, but what the hell, ten years from now everyone else may well be saying, Y'know, that Ellison twink may not have been such an asshole after all.

Posterity again. But unlike most people (and, sadly, like most writers, who are merely jumped-up amateurs), who stumble through their own lives like visitors at LegoLand, I extrapolate. The great obligation to living in the Present is to consider the Future. ALL its branching paths.

Thus, your answer. Harlan Ellison

Jason Clark <jclark@sinclairoil.com>
Salt Lake City, Utah - Thursday, October 16 2003 10:41:24

[T]he big event is Accordéon,l’intégrale which, if we are to believe the press dossier, is "the most complete works of Edith Piaf ever released!" Only 8,000 copies of the "complete works" will be pressed (and sold for 150 euros apiece). Accordéon,l’intégrale is released on 14 October.
The 413 tracks on Accordéon,l’intégrale include six previously unreleased songs...

(from http://www.rfimusique.com/siteEn/article/article_7165.asp)

It appears to be available from Amazon.fr, in limited quantity. A Google for "Edith Piaf Accordéon l’intégrale" both with and without the appropriate accents finds a few other French sources as well, but my limited comprehension of the French language makes it difficult for me to determine which, if any, of these provide for simple shipping to the US.

And now back to lurking I go.

- Thursday, October 16 2003 10:36:14


According to the RadioFrance Internationale web site, the Piaf set "Accordéon,l’intégrale" (which appears to have been retitled "Intégrale 40ème Anniversaire" prior to release) - the 10 disc box set - includes all six of the previously unreleased tracks. At the time the article was written, the set was to be limited to 8,000 units, selling for 150 euros a piece. ($174.55 to you and me as of today's exchange rate, less shipping). I don't know if the limitation still holds true. It was scheduled for release on October 14th (and seeing as it's available through Amazon.fr as of today, I'd say it happened the way they planned.)

"Eternelle, les plus grandes chansons d’Edith Piaf", the 43 song double-disc, contains four of the unreleased tracks. I have been unable to figure out which two tracks have been left off this album.

So the big mamma-jamma box set would appear to be the only place for all six unreleased tracks, and it IS in stores now. None of my stores, unfortunately, or I'd do you the solid.

- Thursday, October 16 2003 10:30:39


Just out of bold, meddlesome curiosity, what are you teaching? I mean what's on your syllabus for the Fall?

Rick Wyatt <rick@rickwyatt.com>
- Thursday, October 16 2003 10:13:36

That cubs fan
Hey, I wonder if Salman Rushdie is looking for a roommate? We could have a terrific sitcom in the making...

A bespectacled SALMAN is sitting in a very English reading chair in a lovely new-york apartment appointed with neatly-fitted bookshelves, carpets, and tasteful furniture, slowly perusing an antique book.

NARRATOR: Salman Rushdie had finally become comfortable hiding from Khomeni's fatwa in a small New York apartment. But when finances forced him to accept a roommate, he reluctantly took in another man also in hiding from a death sentence...

CUT to a short man in a Notre Dame sweatshirt and Cubs hat waiting at the outside door with several overstuffed and dirty suitcases, nervously scratching his head

NARRATOR: ...Steve Bartman.

CUT TO montage of Bartman doing various moving in activities - putting up Fighting Irish pennant, throwing vegetables out of freezer to make room for Bud Light, changing TV station from PBS to WGN, while Salman in each shot is arguing and gesticulating with him.

NARRATOR: Join us as Steve and Salman attempt to answer this question: Can two condemned and hated men share a New York apartment?

STEVE walks into office where Salman is writing, VCR tape in hand.
STEVE: "What happened to the Irish-Miami game I taped?"
SALMAN (stuttering): "Oh, umm, I didn't think you'd want to see that, the Irish lost, I think. That other team had more points."
STEVE: "WHAT? Don't ruin the game for me!"
SALMAN: "Beside, old chap, Ray Fiennes was on THE ACTORS STUDIO and I knew you'd want to see that! So I taped over it."

SALMAN comes into living room where STEVE and a young man are chatting
SALMAN: "Here are the car keys Billy, and make sure you don't lose them, they are my only set." [tosses keys across room]
CUT TO STEVE's face as he gets wild look in his eyes. Unable to help himself, he dives in front of BILLY and tries to catch the keys, knocking them out an open window.
BILLY, leaning out window: "I think I can go get....never mind, they landed in a garbage truck. And.....there it goes..."
STEVE: "Salman, I...."
SALMAN: "Good DAY sir!"
STEVE: "But it wa...."

Hey, it's a better idea than that show with Luis Guzman!

Joseph J. Finn
- Thursday, October 16 2003 9:30:15

Steve Dooner,

Just so you know, there is a Volume 1 of Batman: Black & White, published in 1998. It's out of print, but you can find copies at Alibris.com.

As for the Marlins winning, I'm just happy to have my neighborhood back. I hate to sound cranky, but this is the first time I've had a playoff series here since I moved to Lakeview (for Chicago neophytes, that's the neighborhood that contains Wrigley Field), and much as the atmosphere was exciting, I'll be glad to not have the huge crowds that have been clogging the streets.

- Thursday, October 16 2003 9:20:17


LEE: Many thanks. By all means, send it along to me at the HERC mailing address, which is:

Harlan Ellison
c/o HERC
PO Box 55548
Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

Whatever I'll owe you, including postage ... just let me know.

Incidentally, delighted as I will be to have THIS Piaf release, I do not think it's the one I was seeking because, as Steve Dooner has noted elsewhere in this stream since I made my appeal, there were SIX newly-discovered unreleased tracks, and I don't think the four you list were among them; so this is almost certainly the earlier 40th anniversary set ... and I'll still be seeking the other album when it's released later this month.

Nonetheless, I am uplifted by your gracious thoughtfulness. I anxiously await receipt of the goodie.

As for Frank Church's musical opinions, pfaughhhhhh! Man carries his aural acuity in a brown paper bag along with a baloney sandwich and a bitter vetch. You show me someone who doesn't thrill to the sound of Piaf's voice, and I'll show you a sad and lonely, miserable human being as one with the beasts of the field. Of course, Frank, I mean these comments in the most helpful manner. I only seek to raise you on the species ladder.

(Doesn't like Piaf, thinks she screeches, mumblemumblemumble rassafrassenpeckalomer!)

Ever thine, Harlan

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Thursday, October 16 2003 8:45:7

To all you Cubbie fans; I feel your pain. Really. Look at it from my angle; the Yankees haven't won a World Series since October 2000. The years flow like centuries.

I'm happy for the Marlins. Very happy. Maybe now they can play some games where the attention will turn to them once in awhile. I would estimate that 85% of discussion from the broadcast booth, and media, concerning their series was about the Cubs. Only in the final inning and a half of last night's game did they begin to give the Marlins their due.

As for tonight....yep, I'm a bit concerned. The Yanks always seem to get by Pedro in one way or another, though usually it takes a perfect pitching performance from their own guy, but every once in awhile Pedro will throw a 2 hit shutout against them.

These two series will most likely overshadow any World Series, but then again look at what happened in 2001 with the Yanks and D-Backs; now there was a helluva Series that even a Yankee fan can appreciate!

As for poor ratings of a Yankee/Marlins series, or even a Sox/Marlins series, once again it's proof of the Marlins getting little respect. This team looked like they were building something good last year, and they proved it this year. Screw ratings; since when do we care about public interest over quality fun? Does it matter that your favorite movie doesn't top the $100 million mark? To hell with the public.....I'll be watching that Series even if it's the Sox.


Scott Reeston
- Thursday, October 16 2003 8:32:13

Talkin' Baseball...

I've put this message elsewhere, but the urgency of the message for both Cub and Red Sox fans necessitates it being posted here as well:

Ah, just remember, slashed wrists in October heal nicely by the following April. The trick is to remember to put Emergency Services on speed dial, and hit the button before losing consciousness.

Tell the paramedics you're a Cubs/Red Sox fan. They'll understand.

No need to thank me good people. Just doing my bit to help out. And so, Good Day to you, Sirs and Madams.


Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Thursday, October 16 2003 5:12:9

LEE: I am in complete agreement with you on Jack Kirby. I got hooked on Kirby when he was with DC and working on Kamandi, The Demon and The Losers. His images absolutely haunted me – I had never seen any artwork like that before. His comics were the first that I thumbed through again and again and again, just soaking up every panel. It’s even hard for me to find the words to express the profound impact his art had on me, so I will borrow from your post and add another ‘nuff said to the chorus.

FRANK: You are a panic, man. Todd’s going to butter your ass? I love it when you bring you’re A-game to the board.

STEVE: I know you’re teaching tonight, but feel free to come over and watch the game after.

Speaking of which – this is a complete toss up tonight. Absolutely anyone’s game. The baseball gods have lined up a scorcher, which means that the score tonight will be 10-9.

This anecdote has been in my head since I woke up: Before game seven of the 1975 Worlds Series, Reds manager Sparky Anderson snapped at a reporter, “No matter what the outcome of this game, my pitcher is going to the Hall of Fame.” When Sox starter Bill Lee heard this he responded, “No matter what the outcome of this game, I’m going to the Elliot Lounge.”

I think that expresses my attitude – it’s been a hell of a ride and I plan on enjoying it until they kick me off the bus.

And, MOST IMPORTANTLY: Deep-felt condolences to all the Cubbie fans here. Believe you me, I feel your pain.

All Best,
Walshy, with nerves a-jitter

- Thursday, October 16 2003 1:42:7

I thought Kirby was a good cue to stroll in with the bleaker news.

As you know, Kirby's creation, the SURFER, has been in development for your proverbial big-budget feature for several years now. An update I just read about where Fox may be taking it does not bode well...not at ALL (the damn stupid fuckers!).

I guy named Erik Fleming had a longing to do the movie. But the rights eluded him. He reports about the scripts he's read: "These scripts were like, he comes to earth, he loses his silver skin, and he's walking around human the whole movie, and in the end he gets his skin back and flies away."

NOW, instead, he says they have a writer, Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven, Sleepy Hollow), who apparently wants to set it all in space. "His deal is to completely can Earth and to make it like a Star Wars kind of movie where the whole thing is set all in outer space, in the future."

All I can say is...if they take departures from the character this broad (I mean Earth - how humans react to him - that whole morality gig - is what MADE the character) I won't be goin' nowhere NEAR the damn theater. I may try to run around the country burning down all 2,923 theaters it reaches in protest. But I sure as hell ain't gonna see it. If anyone here has better, more up-to-date news than I have about it I look forward to reading it.

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 22:48:44

The Great One
I know the comics literati currently assembled don't need any reminding, but out of respect for the dead, and in case there are any youngsters hanging on the side lines, I've got to add:

JACK KIRBY, nuff said. Just type his name in amazon and google.

We who were actually young enough to cry when Galactus banished the SILVER SURFER to a life on earth, and were open minded enough to see an anatomically incorrect dude with no clothes plying the interstellar wonderland on a ... surfboard ... and not see anything wrong with that, we can be happy to have also seen the day when Kirby's early work is being re-issued in the "Essential xxx" compendiums.

I'm surprised and a little nervous to find myself agreeing with Frank: at least the last mainstream comic art that really moved me was Miller's "DARK KNIGHT" series. I gradually stopped reading comics as Marvel killed Superman with that pathetic thing that had glass coming out of its face, Tony Parks got drunk and somebody else starting using his suit, Thor became a construction worker and Peter Parker got taken over by a black costume from another dimension. Can you say, "The well went dry?"

As for indies, I think Dave Sim's CEREBUS THE AARDVARK" is worth the trouble, especially the first hundred or so issues. Amazingly level quality given that the whole book, for the last several decades, is basically a two man show. Self-published, etc.

- Wednesday, October 15 2003 22:23:4

Guess what? My kid has an opportunity to meet this Roger Stern guy tomorrow. Is that not perfect for the comic book kid? I don't know much about it myself, but my old man knew right away. Guess Stern's going to meet with a bunch of kids after school tomorrow. They're meeting in the art room so perhaps they'll get to draw. Stern (according to my husband) is a writer not an artist. It'll surely be fun for mom to hear about!

PA: Please tell me that you were NOT at the Haunt getting down to Fishbone tonight. I saw a chick who looked kind of like you, but something about the hair made me go, "Nah." I'll kick myself for being a wuss and not saying hi if I find out that WAS you! :)

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, Massachusetts - Wednesday, October 15 2003 20:39:55

LEE: Thank you for the compliment. The feeling is mutual.


JUSTIN: A great call on Batman Black and White. I just read Harlan's story in the recently released collection and loved every panel of it.

ON COMICS: The Spririt Archives are coming out with volume 12, and in this volume Will Eisner comes back from the war in full swing. I can't wait.

Still searching for the Jewel of Gizeh,

Steve Dooner

Chris L
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 19:33:10

I don't know that the fan caused them to lose the game but I really can't believe so many people are trying to make excuses for him, claiming that anyone would have done the same thing. Any moron might have done the same thing, sure, but that's no excuse. He knew where his seat was. Anyone with a seat like that should be thinking from the time they enter the ballpark that they might be interfering with a ball that's hit to them. You have to be thinking from the very start "Don't interfere with a ball in play." If you're not, you're... a moron.

I don't mean the guy should be burned alive or anything but that was just plain D U M B and there's no valid excuse for it, not if you're a Cubs' fan.

No, I wouldn't have done the same thing. I don't think any vaguely sentient fan should either. I mean, for cryin' out loud, the guy KNEW he had a seat right at the edge of the field of play - duh!

BoSox held on but as I write this, Kerry Wood just blew a lead and the Cubs have gone from a dominant position in the series to needing a late-inning miracle comeback.

Marlins-Yankees World Series? That might set a record for lowest rating ever.

- Wednesday, October 15 2003 18:25:50

The fans and the Cubs players who thought that fan caused the loss of game 6 are deluding themselves. By the way, there was a poll on ESPN.com where something like 57% of the respondents thought that the fan was a "moron". Yet, over 68% said they woulda done the same thing. Yeeeesh. (The poll numbers may have changed 'cause I contributed to the poll early this afternoon when there wasn't much going on...I mean, when I was on my lunch break at work and no, Joseph, no place is safe from that topic. I'm surprised no one's brought up Kobe Bryant though I find it fascinating that I haven't seen him in any commercials lately. And when I say fascinating, I mean strange so it's not really in a Dr. Spock kinda way. And when I say strange, I mean goofy 'cause when I look at a Sprite now I see a sexual predator. And when I say goofy, I mean goofy.)

Oh, I'm guessing the trademark is mostly as a just in case. Doesn't really cost HE anything to do that and he is famous enough where there might be some folks who would resort to using his name for their own nefarious purposes and this just gives him an easier way to do something about it. Or, maybe HE thinks his name looks kinda cool with that thing on the end of it.

I haven't read a comic book in years (though I did pick up the first three volumes of Gaiman's Sandman series recently), but the funny papers, now...now that's entertainment. But, the wastes of space in the comics are Family Circus, BC, Gil Thorpe, and Marmaduke. I particularly loathe Family Circus and this borders on psychotic. I wish that little jerkwad Billy would shut the fuck up, leave his fuckin' dead grandfather alone, the cops take away the father 'cause he's a pedophile AND probably has multiple library books overdue, and the Mommy chick ends up in jail for beating the shit out of HER mother, the old biddy who still talks to the old geezer sitting up on that fuckin' cloud. Plus, she ain't got no tits.

Now, Blondie, on the other hand. Don't get me wrong about Blondie. That Dagwood don't know what he's got. And when she's in bed with that little strap of her nightgown loose on that shoulder...hubba hubba. I'd show her the meaning of the word respect.

(As you can see I'm still jazzed about the Sox win tonight and can't wait for tomorrow's game.)

P.A. Berman
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 18:24:39

Lynn: Thanks for the URL for the Lynda Barry website. Dorie, she does indeed have a new book. It's autobiographical, seemingly, inspired by a Zen scroll painted with 100 demons. Each chapter has her facing one of her childhood demons, and as always, she blew my mind. Definitely check it out.

Todd, et al, did the bloody Yankees not break your heart in the bottom of the 6th/top of the 7th tonight? Argh, they deserved to lose that game. Sigh. So we go to seven games in both leagues. Hey, at least it's interesting.

Rooting for a Yanks/Cubs series,

James Palmer <palmerwriter@yahoo.com>
Gainesville, Georgia - Wednesday, October 15 2003 15:2:42

Wow, Ben, Thanos has his own series?! I might just have to get back into comics for that one. I loved Jim Starlin's run on the whole Infinity series. Thanos was always an intriguing character. You're right about his having issues. He killed is mother for giving birth to him, for crying out loud. (By the way, for info on how he got the gems, check out the two-part Thanos Quest). As for other comics, I'm waiting to get my hands on the last four TPBs of Transmetropolitan. Spider Jerusalem is a hoot! I don't collect anymore, it got too expensive, but I still plan on finishing out a few collections, most noteably Transmet and Martian Manhunter.

Joseph J. Finn
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 14:9:9

AAAAAGHHHH! Could this be the one place where I don't have to see anything about that goofy catch in the Cubs game last night?!?!?!?! I live in Chicago, and it's all people are talking about. China sent a man into space, for chrissakes!


Anyhoo, Frank, I'd add "Get Fuzzy" and "For Better and For Worse" to your list of current great comics. "Get Fuzzy" for it's bizzare, rude surrealism that is far too close to what living with a cat is like, and FBOFW just because it's a fascinating family portrait.


Bill Householder <uburoi666@yahoo.com>
Knoxville, TN - Wednesday, October 15 2003 13:51:13

Harlan Ellison as a registered trademark?
Hi folks,

If this topic has already been covered here, then I apologize for flagellating the equine again. But recently, my library acquired "The Return of the Black Widowers," the Good Doctor's last hurrah with these guys. HE did the introduction and I noticed a curious thing: after HE's name was the little registered trademark r in a circle. This struck me as odd--it's not that I've never heard of such a thing for book titles like the "Don't know Much About" series and perhaps Hubbard's or V.C. Andrews' estate does it, also--but as far as I know Harlan ain't dead and--last I heard--he wasn't manufactured in China, so what gives? Is it a legal maneuver on HE's part out of a need for protection or what?

Your answers--be they smartassed or serious--are appreciated.


- Wednesday, October 15 2003 13:39:11

Now THIS is amusing. Trying to find an actual scientific rationale for how super beings could exist in the real world:


On a different note, I recently discovered Will Eisner's FAGIN THE JEW, an intriguing approach to the Oliver Twist tale. On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, I read THE INFINITY GAUNTLET saga. It's not exactly WATCHMEN, to be sure, but there's always something darkly cathartic about seeing the living snot beaten out of the world's greatest superheroes by a single antagonist. Also, Thanos makes for a surprisingly interesting character. Take a closer look at his dialogue with Mistress Death, and you'll realize this is a man with ISSUES. (Of course, wiping out half the population of the universe would be enough evidence of that already, but...)

In any case, Thanos fascinated me enough to pick up the first issue of his brand-spankin' new series. I'm eager to see where Jim Starlin might go with the big purple guy.

Frank Church
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 13:10:7

I used to read comics as a kid, but I cannot stand the glossy new way that they do them now. I prefer the old way. There seem to be less pages as well. And there has been so many stories over the years, that there is no way in hell that any originality could be found on today's comics pages.

And with newspaper strips, only Boondocks and Garfield are worth reading. I sure miss Calvin and Hobbes.


Tom Tomorrow is an amazing and cogent fellow. It is good to see a Chomsky type leftie also be funny.


Yankees are toast. Todd will butter my ass and lick it off, before they go back to the Series. Worried though, because he might enjoy that.

Todd, Deb, Melissa, Scott, aka, Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice. He hooo heeee.


Brian, what is with all those underline thingies in your posts?


Finished Al Franken's book. Funny as fuck. Made me weep with delight. The right is fucked.

Ann Coulter is moaning on her website that Franken has been telling lies about her. But when she outlines the lies, it seems from looking at the evidence, she has lied again. Is that bitch dumb or what?


"I love sex with squirrels, and I love strangling small puppies in their sleep."

---Derick Jeter, NY Yankees.

Kisses Todd.

Gunther Schmidl <gschmidl@gmx.at>
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 12:57:11

"Howzbout taking on one of Unca Harlan's favorite topics, comics... So, what are you good people reading? What's hot? What's cool? What can you hip us to?"

I am reading HEDGE KNIGHT right now, a comic serialization of George R. R. Martin's story that appeared in LEGENDS originally. Here's hoping the next Song of Ice and Fire book is finished soon (ha ha).

I'm looking forward to the reprints of a few Alan Moore oldies, especially his Lovecraftian stuff -- I'm a big Lovecraft fan, even wrote a thesis on him back in high school. Moore is hit-and-miss for me: I liked League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and especially Watchmen, but absolutely didn't like From Hell.

Other than that, I immediately grab anything Dave McKean publishes. Up next: The Wolves in the Walls.

Scott Reeston
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 12:49:6

Dammit, Get A Room!

Now, I get a phone call from the wife, telling me to respond to the post Deb made, the post being a proxy for Todd, in fact. So your humble (and busy) rink manager takes his place as ventriloquist dummy, after receiving repeated assurance that my ass has been treated for Dutch Elm's disease, and there is nary a woodpecker in sight.

Mel asked me to tell Deb to tell Todd that she wasn't inferring that he would act as an asinine fan that would weight the fly-ball catching fan above the Gonzalez error or the Cubs bullpen giving up of hits to Lee and Mordecai, as some appeared to both during and after the game. It was simply to clarify how passions can overcome judgement, and whether or not Todd could stand above the pettiness a number of Cubs fans displayed last night and today. Deb's Todd-proxy post proved that, and if there was any apology for Mel to make to Todd, vis a vis my posting to Deb, by way of Rick, who said hello to M. Ellison, who poisoned the rat who killed Col. Mustard in the parlour with the Maytag refrigerator (Christ, I'm getting dizzy), then it is extended.

Odd, that the mention of curses purveys post game analysis in some quarters. Let Game Seven decide this, please.

Now, the ventriloquist dummy returns to the aether, feeling it kind of arousing to have his wife's hand up his ass.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Scott, who needs to go back to work, okay?

AZ - Wednesday, October 15 2003 12:26:27

Melissa Reeston
**My husband posted once today, but he wanted very much to answer your Q to him. So I've been enlisted to respond for him. Hope you don't mind!
**You asked if it had been a Yankee fan, and his outreached hand had ignited a BoSox rally, would Todd see it the same way?
He say's " Absolutely. I would have said " Dammit " for a moment, and then shrugged my shoulders...and then if the Yankees went on to allow 8 runs after that after coming within 5 outs from making it to the World Series, I would have said " That's all their fault." It's the same concept as when an empire makes a bad call, and you know it's bad from the replays, and you curse the Gods and then watch your team subsequently fall apart. No one stopped them from overcoming that bad call except for themselves. Didn't get the out, get it now. Didn't have a chance to reverse that call because the game ended...such are the fates of the game.
**I'm feeling writing for Todd is unethical. A way to post twice really. So I won't be doing it again. This is the last time I write for Todd!!

- Wednesday, October 15 2003 12:17:0

Ray- Depends on how long you've been away. If we're talking years and years...you've missed out really big if either Batman: Black and White, or Frank Miller's 300 have passed under your radar!

Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 10:27:1

Comics: Read _Endless Nights_, and the story that just _killed_ me was the sixteen portraits of Despair. Little vignettes of people facing the absolute worst moments imaginable. In a way, it's the most Ellisonesque stuff Gaiman's done-- it'd fit right in _Deathbird Stories_.

My own current comics favorites are Chris Ware, Alan Moore's _League_ and _Promethea_, and Peter Bagge's _Sweatshop!_. Always ready to buy the next Cerebus phonebook, whenever they come out.

Just finished Neil Stephenson's _Quicksilver_. Got lost a lot in the thickets of complex 17th century international finance, but it was a "fun read." Here's looking forward to the next volume, and hoping Jack Shaftoe's life improves therein.

Still no opinions to offer re Quentin Tarantino. Sorry, gang, but I won't re-start the argument.

Jason Michelitch <jm873@bard.edu>
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 10:21:23

I read far too many comics to be either healthy or sane, and certainly too many to list here...

Some of the books that give me the most joy these days, the ones I reach for first:
QUEEN AND COUNTRY, written by Greg Rucka, drawn by various artists, most recently by the amazingly talented Carla Speed McNeil, whose own series, FINDER, is also a joy and a half. I read everything written by Alan Moore I can get my hands on, PROMETHEA (art by J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray) being probably his best current "ongoing" series (though it's reaching an end), and the SMAX mini-series (art by Zander Cannon and Andrew Currie) just giving me fits of pleasure each issue. I'm waiting for all five new issues of ASTRO CITY (written by Kurt Busiek, art by Brent Anderson) to come out so I can sit down and read them all in one superfantastic sitting, but until then I'm enjoying Busiek's other creator-owned book ARROWSMITH, with art by Carlos Pacheco, who, frankly, could draw 22 pages of cardboard boxes and make it the most exciting comic you ever read. I also just picked up a slew of Paul Pope trade paperbacks to read through, as well as Adrian Tomine's new collection SUMMER BLONDE and Craig Thompson's new graphic novel BLANKETS, both of which I'm looking forward to devouring over the next week.

And speaking of looking forward to comics, I should mention my eager anticipation of "7 Against Chaos" (I believe is the title?), written (as I'm sure everyone here already knows) by our own Unca Harlan, and drawn by one of my all time favorite comic book artists, Paul Chadwick, whose past series CONCRETE and THE WORLD BELOW rank among some of the best work ever done in the medium. And if there's any truth to the rumors of more DREAM CORRIDOR in the future, well that would just about make my millenium.

Melissa Reeston
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 10:13:50

Surprising for me to say, but I agree with Todd to a degree. I feel terrible for the poor guy doing what any baseball fan would desire, to have a rare souvenir of the event. Then, he's vilified because the event found him, not the other way around.

Well, now his face is plastered all over the papers, even making it into editions published here in Canada, and he's gone to ground, until some jackass "friend" decides to out him to the public at large. I just hope that nothing bad happens to him.

Of course I have to ask, Todd, if that would've been a Yankees fan, and his outreached hand had ignited a BoSox rally, would you see it the same way?


Bill Gauthier
New Bedford, MA - Wednesday, October 15 2003 9:32:9

I need something to look forward to. Now I know Rabit Hole 33 is coming. Thanks, Susan. You're a lifesaver. Cherry-flavored, of course.


Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Wednesday, October 15 2003 9:16:35

To all you Cubbie fans who were not giving the Marlins a passing thought a week ago: Don't call it fan interference. No one disputes that the ball was in the stands. Rules state, all bets are off.

If you've ever been seated near the field and had a ball heading your way, you will know what this fan saw: a ball. Heading his way. He didn't see Alou heading his way because he saw a ball heading his way. The eyes stay on the ball and the first thought is "don't let it smash into my face" and the second thought is "hey, I may be able to catch it".

Instincts. Reaction. Not fan interference. A ballplayer has a right to leap into the stands to catch a ball, but once the ball is in the stands (and though close, no one disputes that)the fans are not required to make way....and often can't since they are crushed in on all sides.

Besides, there was only one out. It wasn't an inning ending possible catch. And the batter ended up walking, not hitting a homer. So the Cubbies need only blame themselves for the subsequent runs that fell in on their sad little heads.

Cubs Vs. Red Sox? Bwah ha ha ha!

Yanks Vs. Marlins. Whooo, Hoooooo


Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL. - Wednesday, October 15 2003 8:47:53

Youse are the ginchiest.

Many thanks for all of your comic book suggestions. I'll have to swing by my neighborhood comic book emporium at lunchtime to sample a few of them. Warren Ellis, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman are also among my top faves.

- Wednesday, October 15 2003 8:41:6

HERC MEMBERS: JUST TO ADVISE...RH #33 was mailed on Monday. Don't wait too long to order your tickets for this all-star staged reading. Hope you enjoy this RH and the free book offer. All best--Susan

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Wednesday, October 15 2003 6:2:32


I haven't kept up the way I used to, sad to say. I pick up a few here and there. FABLES hasn't blown me away. I liked DAREDEVIL: YELLOW.

Has anyone else read Neil Gaiman's ENDLESS NIGHTS? I think the Death story in particular was wonderful, just beautifully constructed and well-told. And the rest of the collection was pretty good too. It's always nice to see Milo Manara art.

Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Wednesday, October 15 2003 5:25:15

With major league construction underway on my house, I have had to quit my six-comic- book-a-month habit cold turkey. Now I just borrow issues from my pal Dooner, who is a bigger comic book junky than I ever hope of being. But I’ll join him in saying that the new Superman/Batman series is good fun. I’m also rereading Hergé’s Tintin series: I picked up a hardback three-series-in-one volume that includes “Tintin & The Broken Ear,” “Tintin & King Ottokar’s Sceptre” and (My Proustian petite madelaine) “Tintin & The Black Island.” I know Hergé isn’t as edgy as today’s comic book artists, but, damn, I love him.

And in addition to all that, I am a faithful reader of Tom Tomorrow’s “This Modern World,” which, by the by, has a great installment this week. You can read it at
workingforchange.com if interested.

I thought the Sox/Yanks game on Saturday was the Twilight Zone moment of the playoffs, and then I watched the eighth inning of the Cubs/Marlins game last night. Holy Fan Interference, Batman!

And as for the Sox…down 3-2, heading back to the Bronx and putting Burkett on the hill tonight…no sir, I don’t like it. Then again, the way this season has gone, it’s possible that the Sox have the Yanks just where they want them!

Keep Hope Alive!

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Tuesday, October 14 2003 23:12:19

The Dogs of War
That serious discussion of trivial topics leads to the verbally precise equivalent of mortal combat fits this forum very well! Harlan Ellison is after all, among his many other qualities, one of the most verbally devastating smart-asses ever to take center stage, and like Shakespeare before him he seems to have recognized early on that it’s the groundlings that pay the rent. Making the reasonable assumption that people are attracted to this forum through reading his books, a sampling of posts would suggest that his readership includes those attracted to the richness and eclecticism of his work and also those who just like to watch the verbal train wrecks that follow in his public wake. For every Steve Dooner, that thinks hard and looks deep, there is a scenery-chewing ham attacking all comers like a mongoose on methamphetamine. As for me, I like to read everyone who posts here; whether the posts are genuinely thoughtful or merely theatrical, they are very entertaining. An interesting reflection of the work and public persona of Ellison himself.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, Massachusetts - Tuesday, October 14 2003 22:36:31


Well, for me it's Alan Moore's comics that have taken my interest. The comic, Promethea, soon coming to an end, is a fascinating synthesis of myth, Kaballah, superheroics and philosophy. I will never buy into Moore's beliefs in Aleister Crowley or magic--I am a true skeptic--but you've got to hand it to Moore. He's created a comic like no other before. Moebius strips and Tarot, William Blake and Edgar Allan Poe all coming together in a superhero quest through an all-encompassing collectice unconscious fantasy.

Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has also been a blast to read. Best of all, at the back of every League issue, Alan Moore has brought together a fanatsy geography of the world in his New Traveller's Almanac. Imagine a travelog that takes the reader to Anatole France's Penguin Island, Ayesha's fountain of youth, Victor Herbert's Toyland, The Black Lagoon, The Library of Babel, Skull Island from King Kong, Doris Lessing's Watkinsland, Gilman's Herland, Laputa, Liliput, Brobdingnag, and the land of the Houyhnhnms. Moore brings together nearly every imaginary land ever placed on the planet earth, and also takes us hunting the snark with the Bellman expedition.

Also, I am steadily reading Geoff Johns' JSA book, which is a fun contemporary version of the Justice Society of America. Johns has had some nice moments in his run on this book, and he also did a brief and daring stint on The Avengers book, where he made more than a few swipes at the Bush Administration. Just imagine Captain America telling off George Bush, saying that he won't allow America to lose any more of its freedoms! In another issue, Cap tells an overzealous Pentagon General to stand down. Though the general won't listen to Cap, the regular soldiers do--that was a moment that made me proud to be a comics reader. Johns also may have provided the best moment in comics in recent years when he revealed that our Secretary of Defense is actually the Red Skull. It turns out the Skull fully approves of John Ashcroft's new America with all its reduced freedoms. Wow! What could be next? Lex Luthor for president?

See, that's the difference between comics and reality. Comics are clearly fantasy because they show Lex Luthor becoming President of the United States. In real life, we know he's only Vice-President.

Steve Dooner

- Tuesday, October 14 2003 22:3:37

Lynda Barry
PA: Lynda Barry is #1 Zen Goddess Queen of all that is super funky cool. She is deep. I miss Ernie Pook in the Times, too. Check out www.marlysmagazine.com

I can't remember who told me about it, but that's how to get your regular dose of Ernie Pook in the Internet Age. I can't remember where I heard about it. Maybe even here back in the black and yellow ages.

On comics: my kids are becoming comic book freaks before my very eyes. The oldest says he wants to be a comic book writer when he grows up. God help him. ;)

Just kidding. One reason he loves comics is because we buy them for him once in a while. It's just strange because though my husband and I both appreciate comic books, I don't think that either one of us was *that* into them as kids. His taste is juvenile (Sonic and Mad), but he likes to collect them when a new one comes out. He likes to look at the comic books we own (various Spidermans and Crumbs---which he got into when we weren't paying attention. I hope it didn't warp him for life). He even saves his own money up for them. I think it's kind of cute (awww!).

Actually, he's not a bad artist, and he likes to tell little stories in that way. Comic books seem to be the only way to get him to read and write. I can live with it for now.

I liked comics, but was never a big collector. I *do* like comic strips in the paper, though. Have since I was a kid. But that's not really Comics like most folks around here talk comics.

Michael <leftearpro@hotmail.com>
finally out of performance for a few weeks!, - Tuesday, October 14 2003 21:20:41

Hokay, the show finally closed and I've had a couple of days to begin the physical recuperation after weeks of being a stress-monkey. Wanted to stop in here and say thanks to Mel for the good wishes, and especially to give public gratitude to Justin for his appearance opening night. A thousand thanks, my brother -- your endless enthusiasm and appreciation of my work is both greatly comforting and tremendously flattering. Sorry about the actresses... but in April we're doing a six-woman show, so....

As to how the show went, well, I don't know if I can be very objective about it. Audiences seemed to like it, though the local theater critic didn't -- he gave me my first bad review in years. Still, the company is up and running, so I guess the whole thing was a success. I'll try to sort out my thoughts and post them on the other board.

Meanwhile... comics! Hell I spend my every weekend reading everything that comes into the store, so there's a ton of things to talk about... what I'm BUYING, though, is mostly standard mainstream work (I'm an old-school kinda comics reader, thanks largely to our patron's writings on the subject). I love the new run on the JSA, hate what they're doing to the FLASH... just read the whole run on Loeb and Lee's "Hush" storyline in BATMAN, and really loved it... I don't much care for Marvel these days, but their MAX series "Supreme Power" is terrific, as is Gaiman's miniseries 1602, and the ULTIMATE SPIDERMAN title is simply charming. DC has a new series out called HERO, which is about the Dial-H-for-Hero device from the 60's -- anybody remember Robbie Reed? The series follows the H-Dial rather than any set of characters, it's oddly compelling. Vertigo's FABLES title is definitely worth a look. ASTRO CITY is still butt-kicking good fun... I just got the signed hardcover of the "Fallen Angel" trade collection. THE AUTHORITY is back, and that's fun, too... Oh, I could go on and on...

big huggies to all,

P.S. Kill Bill? Fuck THAT -- kill the goddamn Yankees! GO SOX!

- Tuesday, October 14 2003 20:11:48

Lynda Barry
P.A.B. :
Thanks for that, will seek out the (new?) Lynda Barry book, hadn't heard of it. I used to read "Ernie Pook's" til they took it our of our local alternative paper, and I liked The Good Times Are Killing Me and Cruddy (absorbing but horrifying!) She certainly has the knack for convincing adolescent speech. I recently tossed a book aside, I wish I could recall the title, because the author seemed to have decided that the way to make her 11-year-old narrator sound childlike was by this single device: to have her say 'CAUSE instead of BECAUSE. About five times on each page. Very intrusive.

- Tuesday, October 14 2003 19:58:15

Okay, comics then. We're going to Las Vegas for my birthday this year. And coincidentally, it falls on (okay *near*) Las Vegas Comic Con. (read more here: http://www.lasvegascomiccon.com)

Anything we absolutely should *not* miss while we're there? (I tend to wander around the dealer's room drooling on all the art.)


Melissa Reeston
- Tuesday, October 14 2003 19:20:5

I just stopped by to congratulate Michael on his new play, and wish it all manner of artistic and financial success.

The only comics I'm (re)reading are Matt Groening's "Life In Hell" books, and "The Short Life and Happy Times of the Shmoo", featuring an introduction by the resident author. Someone might recommend to Mr. Stevenson that he go back and re-examine the impact of "Pogo", or "Doonesbury" at some point. Other than that, I'm not much for the heroes, or comic books.

And so, I go. Salut, all!


P.A. Berman
- Tuesday, October 14 2003 19:3:4

Funny you should mention comics...
Stopping in to comment because I just randomly picked up Lynda Barry's ONE HUNDRED DEMONS at the library today. She always manages to simultaneously crack me up and make me sad. Her insight into the wonders and horrors of being a preteen and teen girl are nothing short of amazing. I was a big fan of Ernie Pook's Comeek when it ran in the local paper, but now I must content myself with her books when I can get 'em. Anyone else a Lynda Barry fan? Mr. Stevenson should take a gander and her stuff before he slanders cartoons (and Gaiman, and Moore, and Busiek, but I digress...)


Brian Siano <brian@briansiano.com>
- Tuesday, October 14 2003 18:50:15

Here's an area of emotional _frisson_ that you may have experienced. It's when someone in the mainstream news media encounters something with which you're fairly familiar, and treats it as though it's some new and undiscovered world. The reactions are touristy, shallow, and utterly clueless... but since it's written by someone who's ostensibly among the Chattering Classes, they _cannot see_ that they're suddenly in the role of Uneducated Rube.

_Slate_ has an item by one Seth Stevenson, who writes, "I have yet to see an adequate explanation for why a nation with one of the world's highest literacy rates would become so obsessed with cartoons."

Now, doesn't that just spell out _everything_ wrong with Mr. Stevenson? He can't understand why _literate_ people would read _comics_. Could it, be, Seth, that maybe you've just answered your question? That the Japanese like comics _because_ they are literate? That they're literate enough to see _through_ the provincial snobbery that American _litterateurs_ direct at comics?

There's not much one can add to that observation. Mr. Stevenson then goes on to describe a popular comic called Sirotan, and something invlving a mechanical panda, before venturing into Alien Territory: manga porn. He doesn't seem to pick up any of the really extreme stuff, like _Urosukidoji_ (which I watched merely to be able to say I've seen it, sort of like watching _Salo_), but the stuff he _did_ find sends him into conniptions about the Japanese psyche.

Now, Japanese porn is more extreme than most... but haven't people like Ian Buruma and Nicholas Bornoff given us decent surveys of Japanese romantic life? Hasn't Stevenson prepped himself on any of this? Think he'd get into _Kill Bill_ to any great degree?

If you want so see a writer out of his depth, check it out at http://slate.msn.com/id/2089630/entry/0/

Barney Dannelke <dannelke01@enter.net>
Allentown, PA. - Tuesday, October 14 2003 16:3:33

A new review.


- Barney

Los Angeles, - Tuesday, October 14 2003 15:39:21

Ray Carlson:

"Howzbout taking on one of Unca Harlan's favorite topics, comics... So, what are you good people reading? What's hot? What's cool? What can you hip us to?"

I've recently read the first volumes of a few of Crossgen's numerous series. My feelings are mixed--on the one hand, the art is pretty good, and the story lines are fairly interesting...but I am always irked at the idea that you have to literally subscribe (to the tune of $3/book) to each series to have any idea of a cogent storyline. Further, all of their series are connected, so I assume if you ever really want to know the whole story, you would need to buy all the issues of all the comics or you would miss something. Feh. No wonder kids don't read comics anymore--they'd have to cash in their savings bonds to get a whole story.

Having said that, I did enjoy Ruse, Crux, and Meridian and would recommend them for a quick read. Issues can be read online (free and subscription) but the interface is not very satisfying to my eyes...

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Tuesday, October 14 2003 15:20:16

mystic river and comics
Cannot wait for MYSTIC RIVER--Dennis Lehane has been one of my favorite writers for a while now.

I read WEIRD WAR TALES in the early 80s...I imagine it went under around the same time. It was always one of my favorite books.

These days I mainly read the "hipster" stuff....Crumb, Peter Bagge, and Harvey Pekar's stories. I'm a huge fan of a comic called DOOFUS by Rick Altergott which is twisted and offensive but hilarious. I don't think he does the comic anymore but there's a slim volume of them called THE DOOFUS OMNIBUS.

Frank Church
- Tuesday, October 14 2003 14:13:41

Todd, you start making sense, then you kill it with your, "Apocalype Now is not art" guff. AN is one of the great films of all time; a horror movie disguised as a war film. It is also a great detective story. The bizarre images make the film what it is. Every frame is nitro glycerin applied to the nuts. "The horror, the horror." Indeed.


Lynn, don't worry, we will protect your Bill; because we are the Ellison literary hit squad--always on command--in our camo's and moon boots. We there for ya babe.


I was bugged about something. I think about art, and notice that many forms would not exist without extreme tragedy: Most great black music--the blues being a strategic event--would not exist without slavery. Slavery brought black folk here, and their struggle created that music. The blues is about the pain of Jim Crow. Our culture is better because of this music. But society would be better if slavery never existed. But, then, this music may not have existed either. I bet many in our country would not make that trade. I have to be honest, I would have a hard time living in a world without Etta James or Prince or Stevie Wonder or Coltrain.

I'd dump slavery, obviously, but I'd be suicidal, I tell ya.

Then there's Van Gogh, who's demented genius came from mental illness. I'd prefer that he would have lived a full, wonderful life, even if that meant those paintings would not exist. A moral trade off, but what would the world be without his creepy and sad self portrait?

Maybe we should all apologize to him the next time we see one of his paintings.

- Tuesday, October 14 2003 13:54:52

oops....."ignorant on"...very poorly constructed sentence. Grammar police gonna get me. Substitute "about".

- Tuesday, October 14 2003 13:52:53

Hey Ray-- I'm pretty ignorant on the classic superhero comics, but when I was little I used to love House Of Mystery and House Of Secrets and I think it was Weird War Tales? All the supernatural ones. Do they still exist? Was anybody else reading those in the late 60s/early 70s? I think those were at least part of what lead me to start reading science fiction when I was a bit older.

Ray Carlson
Chicago, IL - Tuesday, October 14 2003 12:29:10

Comics Anyone?

Howzbout taking on one of Unca Harlan's favorite topics, comics. Outside of keeping up with ASTRO CITY, I've lost my way. So, what are you good people reading? What's hot? What's cool? What can you hip us to?

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, Massachusetts - Tuesday, October 14 2003 11:20:56

Let's move on

I am in agreement with John K, Phillip Cairns, Mark Walsh and Justin. The conversation on Kill Bill is WAY too adversarial, and it's also getting duller than Dubyah in a cabinet meeting. I admit my own fault in this as well. I am a little too sensitive to the Welles-Tarrentino comparison because I hear it so often. Let us all take a cue from the gracious Mark Walsh and John K and have peace with dignity.

I await the next topic.

Steve Dooner

Lynn <cavalaxis-at-digitalcarrion-dot-com>
- Tuesday, October 14 2003 10:52:46

I'd just like to object to the name of the movie on principle. My sweetie's name is Bill and I'd just rather they not...


Mark Walsh <mnmwalsh@comcast.net>
- Tuesday, October 14 2003 9:48:0

JOHN K: The feeling is mutual. Also, your response to Todd comes close to my thinking, so thanks there, too!

Had the opportunity to hear Dennis Lehane ("Mystic River") speak today at Northeastern University. He had some funny anecdotes to relay on Clint Eastwood's success stemming from his never taking no for an answer and Laura Linney's heroic effort to get the Boston accent right. And there was a great Ellisonian moment when Lehane asked the audience if we had read F. O'Connor's "Good Country People:" When only two of us raised our hands he slapped the podium and shouted "Fr'Chrissakes, what's wrong with you people? Run out now and read the story!"

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the film version of "Mystic River" and would encourage any of my fellow Webderlanders who have not read the novel to check it out: it's Tolstoy meeting Euripedes on the mean streets of working class Boston.


- Tuesday, October 14 2003 9:47:20


Good heavens. Didn't anyone ever tell you guys that discussing films on the internet is the surest indicator there is of illiteracy and, worse, sexual malfunction? Proven fact. Medical science. If I were you I wouldn't go around advertising my shame. Because it IS shameful. Don't let the advertisements tell you otherwise. If you can't perform, there is something VERY wrong with you. It means that you are WIERD. People will shun you. It's an ugly thing.

With concern,

Justin (a studmuffin, you understand, speaking from knowledge acquired in medical journals, NOT from personal experience)

Jon Stover
Canada - Tuesday, October 14 2003 8:53:56

Quentin Tarintino's Word Round-up
Well, a quick look at Merriam-Webster's yields:

Main Entry: cri·te·ri·on
Pronunciation: krI-'tir-E-&n also kr&-
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural cri·te·ria /-E-&/; also -ri·ons
Etymology: Greek kritErion, from krinein to judge, decide -- more at CERTAIN
Date: 1622
1 : a standard on which a judgment or decision may be based
2 : a characterizing mark or trait
synonym: see STANDARD
usage: The plural criteria has been used as a singular for nearly half a century (let me now return to the third criteria -- R. M. Nixon) (that really is the criteria -- Bert Lance). Many of our examples, like the two foregoing, are taken from speech. But singular criteria is not uncommon in edited prose, and its use both in speech and writing seems to be increasing. Only time will tell whether it will reach the unquestioned acceptability of agenda.

Main Entry: cri·te·ri·um
Pronunciation: krI-'tir-E-&m, krE-ter-'yom
Function: noun
Etymology: French critérium competition, literally, criterion, from Late Latin criterium, from Greek kritErion
Date: 1970
: a bicycle race of a specified number of laps on a closed course over public roads closed to normal traffic

Dorie: No problem

Todd: Good Lord, I pretty much agree with you, though I'm not sure what you've got against Iranians and flowers.

Cheers, Jon

Lee <leelinda1@hotmail.com>
- Tuesday, October 14 2003 8:45:40

Harlan, there is info on Edith Piaf CD availability below. It's between "why Arnold shouldn't be in politics" and "is KillBill a movie worth watching".

Dorrie: Maybe it’s just the scene in Braveheart, where King Richard Longshanks defenestrates the hapless gay sycophant, but I’ve always associated the word with medieval themes. It was certainly easier to do back then, before plexiglass or glazed window panes in general. If you think about it, you’ve either got to bring the striking surface to the head, or the head to the striking surface. Defenestration would be a good example of bringing the head to the striking surface. Looking a little deeper into etymology, it turns out that these sneaking suspicions may be well grounded. I say « may be » because most of my books are in long term storage and I have fallen back on the following non-certified etymology that I found lying around on the Internet:

defenestration - 1620, "the action of throwing out of a window," from L. fenestra "window." A word invented for one incident: the "Defenestration of Prague," May 21, 1618, when two Catholic deputies to the Bohemian national assembly and a secretary were tossed out the window (into a moat) of the castle of Hradshin by Protestant radicals. It marked the start of the Thirty Years War. Some linguists link fenestra with Gk. verb phainein "to show;" others see in it an Etruscan borrowing, based on the suffix -(s)tra, as in L. loan-words aplustre "the carved stern of a ship with its ornaments," genista "the plant broom," lanista "trainer of gladiators."

Take it with a grain of salt, but it sounds pretty good to me.

Phillip Cairns
- Tuesday, October 14 2003 6:7:27

To : DAVID LOFTUS, re: “editing quibble (that's what they pay me for)”

You wrote:


It’s Phillip with two L’s, not one. Thank you.

Next you wrote: “...you should keep in mind that in future, the phrase would be most accurately rendered as ‘to a . . . criterion. . . .’”

Actually, David, I believe it’s criterium. Data, as you mentioned, is the plural. Datum is the singular. Same deal here.

And just as datum is losing the battle to data, criterium/criterion is losing the battle to criteria. In the future, the determination of plural and singular will be determined most likely by the context, not the various forms of the word.

And STEVE: Your Welles-was-generative-and-Tarantino-is-imitative argument seems valid. But this level of imitation is not necessarily the big bad thing you make it out to be. The cultural self-referencing in “Kill Bill” is NOT signalling the end of Western Civilization. It’s just good fun, man. Relax.

As for whether “Kill Bill” is art or not, I agree with TODD on this one: Who gives a shit? “Some people can’t just say ‘Nope, didn’t like it’ without making sure that the creator of the movie is disembowelled for having the audacity to even make it!” Not being able to appreciate it or be inspired by it or to simply enjoy the ride because it isn’t art it is one seriously sad situation.

Reading some of the comments that have been written since yesterday, man, some of you guys take movies way too seriously. MARK, for instance, wrote: “...Tarantino, like Barth and the other great Postmodernists use this playfulness to invite the audience in and then let us know that the joke has been on us. This type of art is fraudulent and mean-spirited.” Really? You think Tarantino’s work in mean-spirited? You also said: “I enjoyed ‘Pulp Fiction’ up to the moment when I realized that Tarantino really hates us suckers who ponied up the cash for [h]is picture.” You think Tarantino HATES you? That’s hyperbole, right? Listen to what you’re saying. You’re going off the deep-end, man.

Tarantino isn’t mean-spirited and I doubt that he hates his audience. I won’t speculate too much about his intentions, but it’s probably something like, “Hey, guys, I enjoy this type of movie and I thought maybe you would too.” If there is some redeeming value to ’70s ganger movies and kung-fu revenge flicks, which is what apparently inspires Tarantino (so far), perhaps his movies will encourage some people to dig up those older movies, look back at the originals, and then look back even further to what inspired those and so on.

There’s a natural process of inquiry where one works their way back through the historical development of whatever it is they’re appreciating until one discovers the prime source of whatever it is we’re talking about. We could be talking about STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN (to pick someone who’s been discussed on this board), who, arguably was imitative of Jimi Hendrix, who was imitative of whoever, and so on, until you find yourself listening to the blues of Robert Johnson. Wow.

It doesn’t matter, initially, who’s being imitative or derivative. I don’t think Stevie Ray Vaughan really hated all the suckers who ponied up the cash (to borrow Mark’s terminology) for his records and to see him perform--which I did a few years before he died and he was unbelievable. He wasn’t playing for me and everyone else in the audience thinking, “I got you suckers fooled.” He was probably thinking, if he was thinking anything, “Hey, guys, I enjoy this type of music and I thought maybe you would too.” He introduces the tradition to a new audience for whom the original inspiration may initially be inaccessible. Nothing wrong with that.

I’m not saying Tarantino contributes to this process in his field as well as Stevie Ray Vaughan did in his, but the situation isn’t nearly as grim as some of you think. Tarantino is doing a good job and there’s much to be had from watching someone do such a good job, whether they’re original or derivative. I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan perform “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” and I was pretty goddam glad I did. It could have been a note-for-note imitation if Hendrix, and I would have been nevertheless blown away. It was a good job (to say the least). He was imitative, but he also brought something uniquely his own to the music, as, arguably, Tarantino does with his movies; and it’s that uniqueness that allows the form to reach a different audience, and, in part, to be passed on to another generation. SRV elevated the music to a level I probably would never have been able to appreciate on my own. Tarantino, though derivative, may be contributing to a similar process. He’s doing a good job.

Whether it’s movies or music, I don’t think this kind of inspired imitation signals the decline of Western culture. We’re really not that bad off, guys.

I’d like to quote HAL saying I really think you should take a stress pill and try to calm down, but apparently that kind of self-cultural reference means we’re all dead.

Anyway, enough said about “Kill Bill.” I enjoyed it. It's a fun movie, even if it is Dumb.


Chris L
- Monday, October 13 2003 22:38:6

Kill Bill is a pure exercise in style and there's nothing wrong with that. Critics reacting against its paper-thin plot and non-existent characterization are missing the point entirely.

The reason I thought this film was an almost total failure was that for an exercise in style, it doesn't have any damn style. Or rather it only has other people's style. It is not merely derivative - many films are derivative - it is a film built entirely of quotes from other films, the ultimate post-moderys? This is barely one step removed from a tape like "Jackie Chan's Greatest Fight Scenes." In a world where wit consists of the ability to identify the pop culture detritus that comprises our shared experiences, QT is at the cutting edge. "Silly rabbit, trix are for kids" - see, that's from a TV ad we've all heard so that must be good writing. A scene from Seijin Suzuki, a scene from Ran, a scene for Ichi the Killer - geez, this film is so film-literate and that means it's good. No need to be merely "inspired by" other films, you only show your true love for those films by directly copying them and then telling everyone it's ok because you meant to do that - that was the whole point, darn it.

The so-called over-the-top violence in the film is utterly impotent. Spouting geysers of blood, piles of hacked limbs - they are drowned out by the endless, winking, smirking smarmy presence of the oh-so-clever auteur manque behind it all. This is as harmless, sanitized, lifeless and calculated as any other Hollywood blockbuster - but that was probably the point too. Po mo films have instant defenses built in for any criticism. Whatever you didn't like, well, it was meant to be like that, don't you get it?

QT didn't need to cast himself in the film because it's impossible not to see him in every scene, nudging, grinning, chuckling at his own cleverness. Ooh, now it's an anime sequence, ooh, not it's in black and white, ooh now it's a negative image. Wow, he did so many different things, that must mean he has style. I mean what else could it be - he did so many things and so often - that's gotta be style.

No need to watch any of those silly, boring grindhouse movies. Just wait long enough and Hollywood will do them right with big budgets and killer FX and with some real actors too. None of those silly martial artists and stuff. I'd much rather watch Uma fight.

Alan Coil
Southeast Michigan, - Monday, October 13 2003 22:28:26

Kill Bill
Kill Bill is an excellent movie. I seldom watch a movie a second time in the theater, but I will see this one twice.

It is violent, bloody, and profane. The music is fantastic.
If you don't want to go see it, that's fine, but you can't judge this movie based on previous Tarantino flicks. It's been six years since QT's last movie. Maybe he's learned some new tricks.

Hell, even the chimp on "Ebert and the Chimp" liked the movie.

And by the way, I invite all penny pinchers to move to my neck of the woods. Then you, too, can see this great movie for 6 bucks and 2 bits.

Alan Coil

Jason Michelitch <jm873@bard.edu>
- Monday, October 13 2003 22:13:4

Comments, clarifications
First, I just want to clarify/remind that my major problem with "Kill Bill" wasn't that it failed to be "Art" (I couldn't say if it did) or that it was gratuitously violent (which, well, it was), but that it bored me. Senseless. That said, and though I am standing by my opinion, I have come to the conclusion that it is most likely my problem and not the film's, as I have had quite a few good friends tell me I'm full of wild blueberry muffins on this one.

Though I will say that while films should be approached at a critical level appropriate to the material, I am getting a little tired of the constant apologia for Dumb Films being that they should be judged on how good they are at being Dumb Films. I hear tons of people (not necessarily on this forum) bemoaning the fact that critics get so down on films that are Just Entertainment, and that we "need to have films we can just turn off our minds and enjoy" (my paraphrasing of a collective sentiment). Yeah, sure, ok, maybe we do need those films. But, frankly, I don't see a great drought of them anywhere. They don't seem to be an endangered species. So for me to maybe want something even a little bit more from someone as thoroughly talented behind the camera as Tarantino doesn't strike me as that out of line, and for me to be disappointed when the best that can be said of his new film is "It's real pretty on the surface" is a little depressing to me.

And it just bored me. On every level, smart and Dumb.

Sorry, this is the last time I'll go on at length on this topic, which I'm not sure if we're even supposed to be going on at length about in the Pavillion. This is me shutting up now. Thank you.

And, hey, Todd, who the hell says that "Apocalypse Now" ain't ART?

Cynical Girl
- Monday, October 13 2003 21:8:39

Kill Bill Some More
Relax and have a glass of wine willya?? We're having OPINIONS here. That's all right isn't it? personally I have not seen Kill Bill yet, but I'm happy to read what other folks think of it. And it looks like we're pretty evenly divided between "loved it" and "hated it", so you can't say everyone's jumping all over it for not being ART. CHILL, Bill!

John K <windupbird79@yahoo.com>
Grand Rapids, MI - Monday, October 13 2003 21:1:56

MARK WALSH: I appreciate your post, which was certainly more tactful than mine, and which argued from logic rather than passion.

I guess I disagree with the idea that my single sentence linking Welles and Tarantino places them “on equal footing.” This is just a semantic quibble. I linked them in terms of playfulness, and nothing else; surely there has existed a serial killer as playful as Welles, although I would never call them equals.

(TODD CASSEL: for Christ’s fucking sake! I never said, implied, intended, or even hinted that Tarantino is the equal of Welles. Read my post, sans the aid of psychotropic medicine).

(STEVE DOONER: I said Tarantino was as playful as Welles, not as original, or as creative, or as revolutionary, or as influential. You realize these are different words. Size of the palette doesn’t determine how playful one is or can be. I find that I’m defending myself against refutations of points I never made).

Slick and polished and dazzling as KILL BILL is, and it is all those things, it was pleasurable, at least to me, in its appropriation of genre tropes, and the sheer delight it takes in its own dynamism and audacity. I felt as I did watching AMELIE for the first time: that I was in on the joke.

I certainly agree with you that we should be discussing art that is meaningful and beautiful. And I agree, too, that KILL BILL doesn’t fit the bill. So let me do what I should’ve done in the first place: recommend that the forum readers check out Sofia Coppola’s wonderful film LOST IN TRANSLATION, a film which made me laugh, and cry, and wait.

Adam-Troy Castro <adam-troy@sff.net>
- Monday, October 13 2003 20:45:33

Kill Bill
I wrote this elsewhere:

My intense enjoyment of KILL BILL, Vol. 1, as undeniable as that
enjoyment was, was nevertheless in large part just my enjoyment of a frantic kinetic exercise; I kept wanting it to enjoy it,
also, as that rarefied thing known as a story, to ache for the Bride's tragedy as I've ached for the tragedies of other
characters caught inside other other violent milieus. I felt a *little* of that, in the scenes set in the hospital, where the Bride woke to the knowledge that she'd been robbed of everything, and the further discovery that she'd been repeatedly violated in all the years that followed. But the story's overall level of artifice soon layered anaesthetic on that wound. It became the story of a fight, and not that of
the person who must fight it.

And, you know, I'm fully capable of being wholly taken in by this kind of violent revenge fantasy. In fiction, Stephen Hunter, David Morrell, William Goldman, and Jon Katzenbach have all managed it. Go back further and I will cop to being fully taken in by revenge fictions of Cornell Woolrich and, dammit, Alexandre Dumas.

In film, Sergio Leone, John Frankenheimer, Stephen Spielberg, Richard Lester, and Sam Peckinpah (in STRAW DOGS,
if nowhere else) have all managed to make me deeply want a protagonist to take down a bad guy as much as possible. KILL BILL Vol. 1 is by comparison, a highlights reel with a few searingly emotional scenes that MIGHT have been elements of a much more powerful fiction. The characters are cutouts, at best, and the plot is a half-assed schematic.

I say this, dammit, as a guy who LOVED the film, but recognizes it for what it was.

I guess the real problem is best illustrated by this way of classifying stories:

1) Stories that are about something
2) Stories that are about other stories
3) Stories that are about nothing but
4) Stories that are about nothing

Now, all four can be entertaining. All four can achieve their own level of greatness (that's right, even Category 4).

All four can also fail miserably.

But it's the first category, the best category, that is at its strongest showing most capable of spiking us through the heart, and KILL BILL is, so far at least, nowhere near it. KILL BILL is, at best, on the dividing line between categories two and three.

I loved it. I did. I was whooping and howling at all the cool brawling, and at all the appalling gallows humor.

But not with the same weak-kneed admiration I feel for THE SEVEN SAMURAI or (deliberately choosing a non-classic made
out of the same raw materials), an obscure Scott Glenn/Toshiro Mifune film called THE CHALLENGE. One was a masterpiece and one was a potboiling thriller, but both were definitely Category Ones.

Todd Cassel
AZ / USofA - Monday, October 13 2003 20:31:1

Art Art Art Art Art
Art Art Art Art Art. Does every goddamn movie that is discussed on this board have to be art? Does everything have to be non-derivative? Does everything popular have to be shredded and trampled on just because people enjoy it?

Was Raiders of the Lost Ark art? Was it derivative? No to first, yes to second. So what? To those who enjoyed it, hey, good for ya! To those who did not, good for ya too. To those who pander to Harlan and make sure to express your love for movies and books and music that he loves; hey, last I checked Harlan was a big fan of Raiders.

Kill Bill ain't art. Whoop dee fucking doo. Watching some three hour movie on an Iranian who came down from the mountains to shed a tear as he came across a trampled flower ain't necessarily art either.....but just because it's a big, slow, foreign, meaningful three hours that not many people can see at their local theater, or even would want to see, it is often referred to as art as long as enough critics express their joy at the screening.

PS, I made that movie up.....you can all sit down now and stop digging through your local listings for the next showing.

Pulp Fiction ain't art. I fucking love that movie, get a thrill every time I hear the music when I pop it into my DVD player....stay on the movie channel long past bedtime when I trip over it on teevee. It ain't art, but I love it. Apocalypse Now ain't art, but it's my favorite movie ever! The Godfather's are often referred to as art.....love 'em too, and yet what makes them more art than Apocalypse Now or Pulp Fiction? Because they don't bring the thrill of a fun, funky, hilarious quotable movie? Because they aren't a wild journey down the river of oddball surrealism and gritty war violence?

Ahhhh, what is art in film? That's one of those topics that can go round and round like the debate over abortion and politics.

What is boring, though? The fact that a person could see the Tarantino debate a mile away. 1) Film opens. 2) Someone expresses their enjoyment. 3) Everyone else jumps on that opinion but detailing in all their glory how Tarantino is a hack and is derivative and is not the second coming of Orson Welles or whomever and he has no right to even have a job in Hollywood because dammit we are all just smarter than him and not a single bit jealous over his rise from the bowels of video store clerk because after all we've been working on our screenplay for 10 years now and when we get it just right we will blow his silly little movies out of the water damn him straight to hell.

It's predictable. Some people can't just say "Nope, didn't like it." without making sure that the creator of the movie is disemboweled for having the audacity to even make it!

I enjoyed Kill Bill. Kill Bill is the least of Tarantino's movies. I would rather watch the next volume of Kill Bill than sit through The Iranian Who Cried Over Flowers. Nothing wrong with that. And nothing wrong with Tarantino making movies he wants to make. Let's not forget....HE wasn't the one that compared himself to Orson Welles!!


Chuck <chuck_messer@hotmail.com>
- Monday, October 13 2003 20:28:3

Just wanted to pop in and wish all the Canadian webderlanders a Happy Thanksgiving!


- Monday, October 13 2003 20:15:30

The latest in scientific research has built up an overwhelming body of evidence that even the Kennewick man had a better understanding of what constitutes art than FRANK...thus, any movie RECOMMENDED by Frank is best avoided.

Actually, JOSEPH, you might LIKE Tarantino more than I do - though I DID say some of his stuff was fun - but I'd be curious to find out what statements of mine you could possibly disagree with. Most of what I said was factually based: Tarantino lifts his stuff DIRECTLY from movies and trends of long ago, kinda like kitschy homage...RIGHT down to structure and many individual scenes (and Tarantino himself admits this). THAT'S not art. Great craftsmanship, perhaps, yes; and often intelligent. But the fire simply WILL rage if anyone tries to align him with the likes of Welles.

Jim Hess
- Monday, October 13 2003 16:47:19

Speaking music
HARLAN: Since you enjoy good music, have you ever heard of Squirrel Nut Zippers and their album "Hot"? If so, thoughts on it.

Until next time. . .

Jim Hess

St. Pete, FL - Monday, October 13 2003 15:3:43

There is a new review of Paingod & Other Delusions at SF Weekly. Reviewer gave an A+

Justin <thedogindiana@hotmail.com>
Tucson, - Monday, October 13 2003 13:59:33

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Michael's hugely entertaining play, SUENO, the inaugural performance of TEATRO NUEVO MEXICO. Michael told me it was art as good as he could make it, and I thought he delivered in spades. I hope you'll all join me in wishing Michael and TNM continued success. He did NOT have a troupe of freshly bathed actresses waiting for me, but I'll forgive him just this once.

Michael Reed: Thank you!

Joseph J. Finn
- Monday, October 13 2003 13:51:19

Rick - please excuse the second post. I'm making an apology here.


Mea cupla, my man. I accidentally addressed my response to you instead of Alex Jay. Sorry about that - I may disagree with you on Tarantino, but it certainly wasn't insulting.


Frank Church
- Monday, October 13 2003 13:49:40

Men, retrieve your scrotums from your Rainbow Brite fanny packs, and go see Kill Bill. It's style and artistry will win you over. If not, then you just have no love of film.


Ebert's review:


Best dialogue in the film, uttered by the sword maker:

"This my finest sword. If in your journey you should encounter God, God will be cut."

- Monday, October 13 2003 12:37:25

I can't really add much to STEVE'S post about Welles; he laid out pretty much what I'D say.

A viewer can sense the personal rapture Welles had in themes of personal and social morality and corruption and the temptations of power and greatness; and he persevered to express himself through the medium of film in times of reaction and conformism. By contrast, mere artisans like Tarantino, just to modify Mark's argument a little, are in rhythm with those who thrive on the homage, capatilizing on the disconnection from history imbedded in modern audiences. In short, they are dependent on past institutions for their source material. Tarantino does stuff that's slick; stuff that CAN be fun; but it sure as hell ISN'T art. Tarantino doesn't do art. He is a mechanic using the nuts n' bolts of past achievements.

You could summarize the differences this way: Welles loved film as a medium to expand the motif; Tarantino likes movies a lot.

As for KILL BILL, VOLUME I...I just have this hesitation in seeing it for fear of watching a one-joke idea - one, for that matter, that's been done a billion times before. Parts may be amusing but I'd probably be sitting there being winked at by the director for two hours and feeling detached, forgetting the thing as soon as I leave the theater. I get mighty bored when that happens.


...may I humbly ask what the hell you're talking about?

Mark Walsh
- Monday, October 13 2003 10:56:18

JOHN K: “Tarantino is as playful as Welles.” Your words. You’ve made a comparison between the two filmmakers, a favorable comparison which implies that the two directors are somehow on ‘equal footing’.

That both directors are ‘playful’ – I agree. I think Welles and Tarantino bring a good deal of playfulness to their films. But at whose expense? Welles, like Joyce and the other great Modernists used this playfulness as a way of inviting the audience to participate in the work. Whereas Tarantino, like Barth and the other great Postmodernists use this playfulness to invite the audience in and then let us know that the joke has been on us. This type of art is fraudulent and mean-spirited.

I enjoyed “Pulp Fiction” up to the moment when I realized that Tarantino really hates us suckers who ponied up the cash for his picture. That you dug“Kill Bill Volume One” – excellent. I’m glad you enjoyed the ride, which is a big part of the experience. But on the other hand, I can’t see lauding a picture only for its surface value. I mean, isn’t that THE PROBLEM with art these days? Isn’t it all too slick, too dazzling, too polished and all too much devoid of any meaningful content? And isn’t that a big part of the reason that all of us have flocked to this message board and post our thoughts and commentaries in hopes of getting some kind of interaction from Harlan Ellison, a writer who has given all of us art that is deeply satisfying because of its beauty and its meaning?

All Best,

Joel McLemore
Fresno, CA - Monday, October 13 2003 10:54:5

Kill Bill....
I enjoy violent movies a lot, but I'm probably going to skip Kill Bill. Why watch Quentin Tarrantino's version of movies that already exist and were fine the first time they came out and are fine now? I'd rather see the original films again than see QT's homage to them. Hearing that it doesn't have the dialogue of Pulp Fiction cemented the decision not to see it for me. I'm starting to wonder if Quentin Tarrantino might be doing for Asian action films what Elvis Presley did for blues music.

Steve Dooner <sdooner@earthlink.net>
South Weymouth, MA - Monday, October 13 2003 10:37:23

Mark Walsh is Right

John K said: "Tarrentino is as playful as Orson Welles." Here's where that clear comparison is wrong-headed.

Welles' allusions to "The March of Time" newreels in his "News on the March" sequence in Citizen Kane or his direction of Howard Koch's mock radio broadcasts in "The War of The Worlds" were references drawn from the culture at large. These were the fresh responses of a true artist. When Welles used exaggerated camp performances in "Lady From Shanghai" and "Touch of Evil," he satirizing pulp fiction and real life in a style that had NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE. Even the Grotesque style used in "The Trial" was not an imitation of Cocteau or Bunuel. It was pure and original Orson.

Over the years, Welles' vision may have been compromised by low budgets, but his films still exist as a record of non-stop creativity. He is more "playful" than Tarrentino because his pallette is so much larger. More importantly, he is inventing his own landscapes from bits of recognizable reality and from the bric-a-brac of broken empires.

Welles' references are also much more oblique that Tarrentino's. He refers to old race records in Ambersons or to Jazz culture in Kane because he knows it is more authentic in its creation than the decaying world of the aristocracy or the ersatz world of rich folks at Xanadu. He makes reference to the origins of Robert McCormick's Chicago Opera House and to the sleazy history of The Spanish American War because he is making a critique on America itself.

Welles' movies syhthesize varieties of written, viusal and musical culture. According to Welles, he got his narrative technique for Kane from Robert Browning's "The Ring and The Book" and not from another movie as Pauline Kael mistook. The one movie that can be said to have most influenced Kane is Stagecoach, and you'll note that not one frame of Kane looks anything like Stagecoach.

Simply put, Welles was generative; Tarrentino is derivative and imitative. The playfulness in Tarrentino's films is too cute and too insincere. It's all those winks that make me nauseous in a Tarrentino film, not the blood.

When a culture can only refer to itself, it is dead. When cheeky mugging and sly "waves to mom" replace vital art, then we are at the end of empire. As Mark Walsh says, when movies like this are praised or compared to high art, I can hear the hoofbeats of the Pale Rider.

This movie is "Two thumbs way up" my ass.

Steve Dooner

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