Photo via tributes.com
Harlan Ellison died yesterday, at the age of 84. If you’re a fan of SF, or film criticism, or have a passing knowledge of American TV, then you know what that means: we’re down one giant, and about to enter an intense period of arguing over the legacy of one of the most complex and problematic human beings ever to work in the SF field. Certainly, my Facebook feed is awash with memorials, reminiscences, and as is the way with Facebook, denunciations, already. But then, that’s the crowd I run with. At the heart of it, no matter our differences, just about everyone on my feed loves speculative fiction. We’re all true believers, and if anything, Ellison was a true believer.
Continue reading “HARLAN ELLISON: A STORY ABOUT BEING FREE”
One of the down sides of The Job That Spoiled was the effect it had on my reading habits: basically, they went to crap. So, knowing I was going to escape, I set myself a target at the start of the year: 2 books a month, 24 in total.
Halfway through the year, I’m ahead of my schedule: 16 completed. Here’s what I’ve read, so far:
Continue reading “MID-YEAR READING REPORT”
To say I grew up surrounded by groundlings would be unnecessarily harsh to those few friends I did make, and who went on to better things. So let’s say I grew up surrounded by groundlings and a couple of other people.
Clearly, as this cartoon shows, I recovered from the experience.
“I don’t care what your common-law wife says, ‘Condoms of the Inner-City Waterways’
is not an appropriate subject for a year 5 nature presentation.”
Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O’Donoghue by Dennis Perrin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An entertaining, but on reflection superficial, examination of an author who was a major influence in the establishment of both National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live. There were obviously worms underneath the psyche of O’Donoghue, but as portrayed by Perrin, he comes across as a massively talented adolescent with the emotional control of an angry toddler. There’s a frustrating lack of depth or analysis. The acknowledgements page betrays a possible reason– despite O’Donoghue’s life touching a cast of thousands across both the Lampoon and SNL, as well as the rest of his varied career, only O’Donoghue’s wife Cheryl Hardwicke stands out, as well as Tony Hendra, Matty Simmons and Lorne Michaels for glimpses of their own works about the man. While the likes of Chevy Chase and Anne Beats discuss him in passing, the opportunity to really dig through the memories of those who knew him best seems to be shied away from.
The book is an entertaining read, and it skims across the major points of a complex and driven artistic soul, but it’s hard not to feel that the opportunity for a major examination of O’Donoghue’s influence on his contemporaries and industry has been missed, here. In all probability, this was the only chance, and it’s now been missed. Try as he might, Perrin never gets beyond the image of O’Donoghue as a tortured enfant terrible, leaving us with only glimpses of what might exist beyond that role.
It’s a book to treasure for those of us who were, and remain, fans, but it’s a bittersweet fandom: we never really get to know the man, just the image.
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One of the very few cartoons I managed to get to complete, inked status, and one of the few I’m actually proud of. I got this one right. If I’d managed to hone my skills to this level every time, I might have made something of the hobby, instead of the pifflingly few sales I actually did make.
So it goes.
The Life of Graham Greene Volume Three: 1955 – 1991: 1955-1991 Vol 3 by Norman Sherry
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
The first two volumes of Sherry’s biography of Greene skirted hero worship by dint of sheer volume of reportage– Greene’s life was filled with momentous happenings, and simply relating them kept Sherry’s over-ripe familiarity mostly at bay. Here, unfortunately, as the subject’s life begins to wind down, there are no such brakes– what has been, until now, a mildly cringing sycophancy devolves into full blown toadying. Anyone who is apposite to Greene is portrayed as deluded, jealous, or outright wrong. Greene himself is a warrior for truth, a noble of unsurpassable grandeur, Sherry’s personal hero. The author even begins to insert himself into the narrative in an effort to tie himself to his famous subject. This is the weakest, and most tedious, volume in the series, deeply flawed and worthwhile only for a sense of completism, because Sherry has committed the cardinal sin of the biographer: he has fallen in love with his subject.
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Oh, God. How to describe the impact the Marx Brothers have had on my psyche? You know that thing where my first reaction to everything you have to say is a wisecrack? You know how I’ve had three sons, and if they’re within five feet of me you have to keep telling me to stop rough-housing with them? You know how, every now and again, I tell you that it made sense to me? That it’s not my fault if people can’t keep up? That I’m only here to amuse myself, and everyone else is only watching?
Continue reading “10 MOVIES, 10 DAYS: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA”