So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind,
Is all the sad world needs.
(“The World’s Need” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox)
That there, my friends, is what we call (with a sneer) a platitude. No, that’s not an animal related to Perry the Platypus. It’s a trite, sort of obvious, not particularly helpful bit of advice that people are wont to give when things get complicated. Platitudes are spouted so often that they become meaningless. But this platitude means something to me.
You see, it was proudly displayed (and, as far I know, still is) on the family room wall of the house next door to mine when I was growing up. The house belonged to a retired postmistress named Ruth Bryant and her daughter, Eva. Eva still lives there. Mrs. Bryant was just about exactly the age of two of my grandparents, born as the now-vanished 20th Century was only a year old. She remembered a time before there was ever such a thing as a World War, before electricity, before radio, before the Titanic sunk and forced the lords and ladies of Downton Abbey to go get jobs like normal people.
The saying was emblazoned in a needlepoint sampler that hung above Mrs. Bryant’s easy chair. When I spent mornings with her before getting on the bus for afternoon Kindergarten, I would read it over and over, sometimes out loud if I was feeling brave. Mrs. Bryant would assure me that that saying was true. And she lived that saying, as far as I could see. In all my five or so years I’d never met anyone kinder. 45 years later, I still haven’t.
Mrs. Bryant died just as a thing called “Political Correctness” was taking hold in her beloved America. I don’t think she would have thought very much of it. Nor do I. And I think my disapproval goes back to those words above.
I’m very angry right now. I’ve written four drafts of this entry, all very different. I’ve been angry since Saturday. I won’t say why, and I won’t say at whom I’m angry. I’ve been told that sharing this kind of thing publicly is referred to as “Vague-Booking,” and it’s apparently a faux pas. Oh well. I do have a lot to say about my anger. If you really want to know the in-depth, ugly details, feel free to contact me privately. I may tell you more. I may not.
Here’s the thing: the person I’m angry at is a friend. The reason I’m angry at him is that he has, quite intentionally, hurt many other friends of mine, as well as members of my family. We’ve been losing sleep, pacing the floors. We’ve been defamed an humiliated in public. If I talk about WHO he is or WHAT he did, I’m giving him publicity he doesn’t deserve and I’m giving his defaming remarks a chance to spread further. I won’t do that. He’s spread them far enough.
Last week, I wrote about a famous man who had died: Leonard Nimoy. It was a gently chiding piece about name-dropping, and about how you don’t need to personally know a celebrity for him to have a huge effect on your life.
And this week, because I’m nothing if not contradictory–or is that everything if not contradictory?–I’m writing about a famous man who died, and how the fact that I knew him personally intensified his effect on my life.
This week, sadly, I’m writing about Harve Bennett, who died Feb 25th at the age of 84. He was about the same age as Leonard Nimoy. They both had long careers in the film business. They worked together on a number of projects. They died within days of each other. Continue reading
I didn’t. Never met the man. I once walked onto a stage where he’d just finished speaking, and picked up the mic he’d just put down; but we didn’t exchange any words, except perhaps, “hello.” Maybe we nodded to each other in passing. But I didn’t know Leonard, and he didn’t know me.
Why is that important? Two reasons. One, a lot of people are rushing right now to talk about knowing this man who just ended a long and productive life. I guess it helps them mourn his loss, makes them feel closer to him, despite his death, and provides them with validation. They knew someone famous, and that’s cool. Every fan wants to be able to claim that he’s best buds with his favorite celebrity, right? And what am I, if not a fan? Look at that picture up top. Who but a fan owns that many Mr. Spock figures?
This book is better known as one third of a classic volume–Bulfinch’s Mythology, which includes The Age of Fable (published 1855), The Age of Chivalry, or Legends of King Arthur (published 1858) and Legends of Charlemagne. The whole collection was one of my constant companions through childhood. I wore out the copies at my elementary and middle school libraries, I’m sure. It’s a great reference book, and, indeed, a lot of libraries keep a copy in their non-circulating reference collection. Or used to. I don’t really know what libraries keep in their reference collections in these post-Internet days.
But I kept Bulfinch’s Mythology on hand, I confess, primarily for the sake of reading and re-reading The Age of Fable. Until this year, with the exception of occasionally reading a brief entry on some character from Arthurian lore for research, I’d never read the second two books in the compendium. So, over the course of the past few weeks, having nothing else to do (hah!), I tackled these tales of the Round Table, and their token coverage of Robin Hood, King Richard and a few other note-worthies of British folklore.
Ordinarily, I do a con summary the weekend following a convention, but I’m not up to it tonight. Farpoint was a great success, a very well-run con this year. Our show, “The Maltese Vulcan” went off without a hitch on Friday night, and Tim Russ was, of course, brilliant in the lead role. But things happened that have left me very drained, and not just the hard work of running a con. I may (or may not) talk about those things in this space down the road.
Farpoint 2015 is this weekend! Guests include Colin Ferguson, Tim Russ, Timothy Zahn, and, of course, me.
I know I said I’d retired from Farpoint and all, but Renee and I stepped up this year to run the Art Show, so that our friends Cindy Woods and Heather Mikkelsen could take over Programming, where they’ve done a stellar job. So I’ll be in the Art Show room a lot this weekend.
I discovered Wonder Woman when I was about nine years old. The very first story I ever read was her first cover appearance in Sensation Comics #1. (Not the original issue, but a repro from the 1970s, when DC Comics cared about its history and took lots of opportunities to introduce new readers to old stories.) I quickly ordered a similar repro of Wonder Woman #1, and so I pretty much knew from the beginning that Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, who wrote under the name Charles Moulton, was a psychiatrist. I knew he was the inventor of the lie detector test (but, sadly, not the person who wound up with the patent for it), and that he had created his character intentionally to give comics readers an example of a strong female. (Not just, it turns out, as a role model for girls, either.)
There’s nothing more disheartening for a writer than to read something published by a major house and think, “I can write better than this!” That’s especially true for a writer whose collection of rejection notices exceeds his collection of pay checks for work sold. (Isn’t that most of us, though?)
Oh, yeah, there is something more disheartening… having that work be authored by someone that one of your literary idols thought was a real talent.
I picked up a couple of books by Dan Galouye because he’s mentioned, in Robert A Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century, as a writer whose work the Grandmaster really admired.
RAH must have read something by Galouye other than The Infinite Man.
This is the saddest film I’ve watched in a long time. Maybe ever. And, right up front, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS. Yeah, that’s kinda strange to say, given that the movie chronicles real-life events that happened 70 years ago and more, but, if you want to be “surprised” by events you didn’t know about, stop reading now.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, arguably the inventor of the first electronic computer, and leader of the effort to break the Nazis’ top secret “Enigma” code during World War Two. Turing was a misfit from the word go. He was the smartest kid in his class, suffered, suggests the film, from OCD, and was gay at a time when homosexuality was an offense punishable by jail time or forced “chemical castration.”