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Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Because if you're going to read a banned book, sometimes you need to go bad. Real bad.

Plus, I started it on the day this went down.

It just seemed all the more appropriate, somehow.

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...this was a brand new thing.

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And this is another warning about how you should be wary of taking political advice that comes from the mouths of celebrities - even ones you admire, despite their politics.

You can read the meat of the mess via the link above, but this stretch of Mr. Eastwood's Wild Ride seems to be an object lesson in not how to articulate a thought:

ESQ: What do you think Trump is onto?

CE: What Trump is onto is he’s just saying what’s on his mind. And sometimes it’s not so good. And sometimes it’s … I mean, I can understand where he’s coming from, but I don’t always agree with it.

ESQ: So you’re not endorsing him?

CE: I haven’t endorsed anybody. I haven’t talked to Trump. I haven’t talked to anybody. You know, he’s a racist now because he’s talked about this judge. And yeah, it’s a dumb thing to say. I mean, to predicate your opinion on the fact that the guy was born to Mexican parents or something. He’s said a lot of dumb things. So have all of them. Both sides. But everybody—the press and everybody’s going, “Oh, well, that’s racist,” and they’re making a big hoodoo out of it. Just fucking get over it. It’s a sad time in history.

No offense to Clint - no, really - but the only reason why Candidate Stoathead decided to go after that judge is because that judge had both the misfortune to be involved in his Trump "University" case and because there is a very large network of Stoathead supporters who are, and will continue to be, screaming card-carrying racists. So they got to hear the dog whistle loud and clear because he's of Mexican descent. Never mind the little fact that he was born and raised in the US and is therefore this thing called an "American citizen" as a result; that's not what matters in the odd little universe populated by certain Trump supporters - Gonzalo Curiel's background is.

Then again, look at this way: Clint Eastwood is 86 years old. His complaints about Today's Youth (and consider that there's been roughly 3 intervening generations since he was born, so that's some sample size you've got, there) being overly sensitive and blah blah blah are probably not much different than what he heard from some (but not all) members of the generation that preceded his when he was a teenager in the late 40's and they'll probably be no different from the ones coming out of the mouths of some (but not all) millennials some twenty to thirty years after they've had kids. The problem is this: every generation looks down on their successors as somehow being either morally weaker or less courageous than they were, and it's all bullshit. Because that canard keeps getting repeated over and over again. Younger generations just have a different set of problems than previous ones. You can still get killed over essentially nothing if you're 25 now just as you could've bought the farm over trivial shit like your ethnic background or the color of your skin way back in 1946. What's different is that we think we know better. Or should.

As for Eastwood, well, he was a genius as an actor and director. No doubt about it. But that's as far as his genius goes. Looking for deep political insight from an actor is about as bright as asking a ballet dancer about their deep thoughts on quantum physics (or worse yet, asking another actor about what causes autism), but we spend an absurd amount of time giving a shit about their opinions due to the fact that they're! Really! FAMOUS! And being famous means that you have to have equally famous opinions, right?

Not really. And it'll be a sign of genuine societal maturity if people finally realize that fact.

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Truly. But I'll let the music speak for itself:

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From the Guardian:

In an interview in 2013, Lee spoke about his love of acting. “Making films has never just been a job to me, it is my life,” he said. “I have some interests outside of acting – I sing and I’ve written books, for instance – but acting is what keeps me going, it’s what I do, it gives life purpose.”

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I don't think I can say anything to do him proper justice in a eulogy, so I'll just let the New York Times do it instead:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

The question most often asked about Mr. Mandela was how, after whites had systematically humiliated his people, tortured and murdered many of his friends, and cast him into prison for 27 years, he could be so evidently free of spite.

The government he formed when he finally won the chance was an improbable fusion of races and beliefs, including many of his former oppressors. When he became president, he invited one of his white wardens to the inauguration. Mr. Mandela overcame a personal mistrust bordering on loathing to share both power and a Nobel Peace Prize with the white president who preceded him, F. W. de Klerk.

And as president, from 1994 to 1999, he devoted much energy to moderating the bitterness of his black electorate and to reassuring whites against their fears of vengeance.

The explanation for his absence of rancor, at least in part, is that Mr. Mandela was that rarity among revolutionaries and moral dissidents: a capable statesman, comfortable with compromise and impatient with the doctrinaire.

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Yeah, I know, I know; I'm a day too late. So what?

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Adios and thank for all the fun, even if I was a bit too young for Screaming Yellow Theater:

In a more than 40-year career as radio and TV host, Jerry G. Bishop won three Emmys and toured with the Beatles, but he may be best remembered as the original Svengoolie.

Mr. Bishop hosted "Screaming Yellow Theater," a horror-film show on WFLD-Ch. 32 from 1970 to 1973, as the coffin-dwelling hippie with a wacky sense of humor. His character has a devoted following to this day, family and former colleagues said.

"He was making really creative TV on almost no budget," said Wally Podrazik, curator at Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications. "I'd call Jerry G. Bishop the master of the non sequitur and running gag. Not just as Svengoolie, but as a radio DJ with a superb timing and a sense of unabashed silliness."

...which is exactly what you want in a horror movie show host, right?

To wit:

Plus a few clips with his chosen (?) successor, Rich Koz:

And let's not forget one of the most obvious ploys a horror show host can utilize: shameless pandering to the sensibilities of those male fans who've already hit puberty, shown right here (NOTE: there's nothing in this clip that's so raw that it can't be shown; it's just that FuzzyMemoriesTV insists on starting them on Play mode automatically, which means that the sound for this Tina McDowall segment possibly might be on whenever you arrive at this site. Hence, the link.

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“That's really what SF is all about, you know: the big reality that pervades the real world we live in: the reality of change. Science fiction is the very literature of change. In fact, it is the only such literature we have.”  - Frederik Pohl

Another depressing loss for the science fiction world, and I'm especially bummed that it had to happen during Worldcon weekend.

Before I start throwing links about Pohl's career at readers of this journal like over-sized electronic frisbees, let me point out that one of the things that kept me sane on many long, boring trips to and from my former job out in Elk Grove Village was, in fact, Pohl's writing. I went through at least five of his books that way (namely, The Space Merchants, The Merchants' War, Gateway, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon and The Best of Frederik Pohl), and the latter was especially important in keeping me sane when a snowstorm caused a 40-minute bus ride to turn into a ridiculous three-hour fiasco. He was just that good a writer, and more's the pity that I couldn't read even more of his work before his passing.

So rest in peace, Fred. Your work was vital (seemingly regardless of when it was written, which is a trick lesser writers might not have pulled off) and highly appreciated. You'll be greatly missed.

Official biography

SFWA memorial page

NY Times obituary

io9 article

Wikipedia page
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First, some historical news footage:

And then The Speech itself.

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It's odd how things are getting rough on SF fans and affacionados of science and space exploration in the obituary column right before Chicon 7. First there was the passing of Harry Harrison; then there was the death of Josepha Sherman. And then there was, at least in my opinion, the biggest one of all:

Armstrong faced an even bigger challenge in 1969. Along with Michael Collins and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, he was part of NASA's first manned mission to the moon. The trio were launched into space on July 16, 1969. Serving as the mission's commander, Armstrong piloted the Lunar Module to the moon's surface on July 20, 1969, with Buzz Aldrin aboard. Collins remained on the Command Module.

At 10:56 PM, Armstrong exited the Lunar Module. He said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," as he made his famous first step on the moon. For about two and a half hours, Armstrongn and Aldrin collected samples and conducted experiments. They also took photographs, including their own footprints.

It's arguable that Armstrong has as much to do with science fiction as Harrison or Sherman does. He actually did something in reality that people had only been able to write about previously; he was the first man to set foot on the surface of a landform that wasn't on this planet. And despite the usual batshit whining from the usual assorted loony-tunes (who deserve a reaction like this in turn), no one can ever take that away from him or his legacy.

(Humorous musical accompaniment provided by Angst circa 1983.)

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Words fail, so I'll let John Scalzi perform the tribute:

When I got to the lounge, there was an older fellow sitting at one of the tables by himself, so I sat down and said something along the lines of, Hi, I’m John Scalzi, I’m a new member of SFWA. And he said, hello, I’m Harry Harrison. And I thought, Holy CRAP, because, you know, Harry Harrison. Within a minute of sitting down in the SFWA Suite, I was talking with one of the living legends of the genre. He was gracious enough to give me some of his time and to suffer my interminable rambling, because even though I referred to this as my first peer-t0-peer conversation, come on. My first novel wouldn’t be released for two years yet; meanwhile Harry Harrison had dozens to his name. The fact he treated me like a peer, however, was something I appreciated and noted well for future reference.

Yes, I was a fan of Harry Harrison’s. When SFWA named him a Grand Master, I was very well pleased. I think it’s worth noting that in his storied career, Harrison never won a Hugo (he was nominated twice, in the Novel category) and had a share in only a single Nebula (for Soylent Green, adapted from his book). The measure of someone’s influence and stature as a writer is not always immediate; the Grand Master award was a fine way of noting that Harrison’s work and reputation built over an entire career. And that’s an encouraging thing.

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A tribute to the Chicago jazz giant, from the surprising corner of Discover's Sean Carroll:

Von was absolutely unique, as a saxophonist and as a person. As a musician he managed to intermingle an astonishing variety of styles, from classic ballads to bebob all the way to free jazz, with more than a few things you would never hear anywhere else. Some thought that his playing was an acquired taste, full of skronks and trills and lighting-fast tempo changes. But once you “got it,” you could hear something in Von that you just couldn’t hear anywhere else. This isn’t just formerly-local pride talking; when John Coltrane left Miles Davis’s band in the 1950′s, Miles tried to get Von to replace him. But Von never left Chicago for more than a few days at a time.

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First it was Jan Berenstain back in February; now it's Maurice Sendak.

Can't say I was much for the Berenstain Bears back in the day, but I had a copy of Where the Wild Things Are, of course. This explains a good deal about me, I suppose, though I'm not sure why. 

September 2017

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