I Bet You Already Know Ray Bradbury is Dead

by Larry Brody

Just about everyone on the web has reported on the death of s-f author Ray Bradbury today. Obits, retrospectives, contemplative determinations of his place in literature abound.

And rightly so.

I’m weighing in because even though TVWriter™ isn’t a science fiction site, I began my career as a science fiction writer (well, after the poetry – because I got 2 cents a line for poetry but a gigantic 2 cents a word for science fiction). And I wouldn’t have been any kind of writer, or possibly even alive, if Bradbury hadn’t written The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

My mopey, oppressed, mostly miserable self read all three of these works while I was in my early teens. The poetry of them kept me from attempting even one of the hundreds of forms of suicide I would come up with when contemplating what I thought of as the hell of struggling through high school and into adult life.

That’s right, the poetry. Not the stories. Not the concepts. Not the ideals. Not the philosophy. The simple fact that some guy the same age as my Ignorant Oppressor Parents knew and felt words so well that he could sing them right into my soul is what made me decide life could be wonderful, and that I wanted to sing about that wonder to others.

Ray Bradbury convinced me to become a writer.

When I was 16, I stopped reading Bradbury. Too simplistic. Too much in love with the past. Complex me was way too busy running headlong into the future by then.

I did meet him once, though, in the mid or late ’70s, which is approximately the time of the picture above. He was practiced at the meeting fans thing but not particularly involved in it. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was the person who introduced us, a young woman whose name I don’t remember who owned a science fiction and fantasy bookstore in Santa Monica.

What I do remember is that said Bookstore Owner had a way of exposing her cleavage without ever seeming to try, and that her cleavage revealed a wonderful tattoo above one breast. And that she smiled at me as I fixed my eyes on it (the tattoo, I think, although it could’ve been the breast), and said, “You’re as freaky as the rest of us, Lar,” with so much approval that I knew any sins I had or ever would have were forever absolved.

Now that I revisit the scene, I realize that  Bradbury too was caught up in the Bookstore Owner’s sainted cleavage, which probably was why he couldn’t even think about putting much oomph into the the desultory handshake that marked our intro.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that many of my writer friends knew Bradbury to one degree or another. I was surprised to learn that most of them, while praising the man and his work in public, considered him “stuffy, “pompous,” or “irrelevant” when we discussed him privately. Which upset me since I didn’t want him to be any of those things. I wanted him to be nothing less than Huge, a Behemoth Striding the Earth, because, after all, hadn’t he saved me?

My advice to those of you who want to know more about who/what this legendary figure was, is wait till Harlan Ellison weighs in. Harlan and I were close once, very close. In fact, he’s the one who brought me into that Santa Monica bookstore. And as far as I’m concerned, his assessments of other human beings are, almost always, spot on.

Meanwhile, FWIW, to me Bradbury was more than merely Ray Bradbury. He was Fucking Ray Fucking Bradbury.

And that’s a lot to say.

Look What I Found

by Larry Brody

 

Just saw this on the AUTOMAN Facebook page.

Desi Arnaz, Heather McNair, and Automan himself, Chuck Wagner.

This is only three-fifths of the original AUTOMAN cast. Missing are Bob Lansing and Gerald S. O’Laughlin, who couldn’t make the reunion because they don’t breathe anymore.

Also not pictured are “Cursor,” Automan’s sidekick/tool (think the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver if it behaved like Harpo Marx), and the Autocar:

And, no, neither Cursor nor the Autocar ever breathed.

I did drive the Autocar around LA – just a little – and learned that if you wanted to pick up women, it was God’s Greatest Gift. But if all you wanted to do was look at them, forget it. They’d look back and come running, and I’d have to hit that accelerator and get my embarrassed self away.

 

LOVIN’ THE MAKEOVER MOMENT AT TVWRITER™

by Larry Brody

Today is a big day for me. It’s the Official Opening Day for the new TVWriter.Com website.

Lots of changes, including:

A complete redesign!

A new name!

A new logo and favicom to go with the new name!

(What, the favicom thingie doesn’t do it for you? After how hard I struggled to get it right? Damn…!)

We went for the redesign for several reasons.

I’ve always thought the previous design was great, which is why we kept it for about a dozen years. But a dozen years? That’s three high school/college generations. On the interwebs, anything that old is ancient history.

And seeing something I’d seen for so long everyday left me feeling flat as a creator. The static page set-up created boundaries that made me feel constrained. The whole concept of a “company site” made me feel constrained. So we’ve switched to a more contemporary blog model, where I feel freer about presenting myself as, well, as me, talking to you – and listening too.

I’ll be posting thoughts, answers to your questions (which means you’ve got to ask ’em), articles, news items, snippets, and lots of video as frequently as I can while making sure it all feels like fun. And I’m inviting current and former visitors and students to blog about their experiences trying (and so often succeeding) to make it in the Big Badass Showbiz World. Just thinking about what we’re up to energizes me. Nothing LB likes better than taking life into the future. Nothing I appreciate more than ambition.

It’s your ambition that matters most. TVWriter is here to aid and abet your climb to the top of the writing food chain. When I started out, back in the prehistoric 1960s, I was lucky enough to learn on the job from a variety of talented, smart, and sometimes even wise mentors. Now it’s time to give back. Which I can do only if you USE this site. Keep on coming by and help us all.

Speaking of ambition, we’re changing the name from TVWriter.Com to TVWriter. One reason for that is overwhelming vanity/ambition because, hell, this is Big Badass Showbiz and I’m that kind of guy. Another reason is that it seemed silly to call this place TVWriter.Com when it’s sprawled out over a mess of URLs including tvwriter.com, tvwriter.com, screenandtvwriting.com, televisionwriting.com, and several more.

And, yes, there’s a practical and, I admit, promotional reason as well. Many of today’s social apps got totally deranged by the .Com thing in our former name and would automatically insert links in the middle totally screwing things up. TVWriter they get. (And TVWriter™ too.)

I’ve got to get back to work, which means playing with this new site. I hope you’ll come back and play too. Today is, indeed, a big day for me.

But the most important thing is for it to become a big day for you.

If What’s New is Old & What’s Old is Obsolete, Then What Does That Make the New?

by Larry Brody

If I get it right, Shane Smith is telling us that a big problem with New Media is that it is spending all its resources imitating Old Media. Web TV, he says as the keynote speaker at something called IWNY HQ 2012. Same kind of programming. Same kind of publicity. Same kind of business practices. Same kind of sales tactics.

I say, “If I get it right,” because Shane Smith, the founder of a New Media company called Vice, which recently made a deal to produce a show on Old Media’s HBO and tells us about it in a way that reveals a man incredibly proud of being ashamed of not being original and is described in the “New York Times” as “a robust storyteller, the type who wears a few extra pounds as if they’re a trophy from good living,” but I found his presentation, including the clips from his new show, so dull that I couldn’t watch more than the first five minutes.

To be fair, “The Times” also calls this crazy, zany, “Falstaffian” figure both “a voice of a generation of too-cool D.J.’s and artists who wear rolled selvedge jeans and chunky glasses…[and]also a conduit for corporate America to reach that elusive audience.” So they see that he’s not exactly totally devoted to art, youth, or, for that matter greed.

To be still fairer, I have to say that from what I saw, if Falstaff had had the dynamism, intelligence, guts, and good humor of Shane Smith, HENRY IV would not be a play routinely produced at important venues and forced upon English lit students to this day.

Why am I ranting?

Disappointment, pure and simple. Like Shane Smith (who does have a cool name and kinda looks like my hero, Louis C.K.), I too have been disappointed in and by that particular aspect of New Media called internet TV. I agree with him that it has become so derivative in so many ways that those involved should be embarrassed, so when a friend sent me the video above and I read the “Times” article I was looking forward to finding a media messiah I could prostrate myself for.

But Shane Smith has made Brodyworld’s one inexcusable error: He has forgotten that the reason we strive to be new, to find new ways of communicating, new ideas, and new financing to support the communication of the ideas is to capture our audience’s attention and, at the same time, release its soul. Creative people/Old and New Media moguls/content creators/content suppliers (sadly not the same, often, as the creators) should be lighting me on fire, inspiring me to take to the streets and give everything I have to remake Broadway/Rockefeller Plaza/the Grey Lady/the Marvel Universe/the porn universe, et al into a tomorrow I can’t even envision – which is the whole point of tomorrows; it’s what makes them exciting.

Instead, he ignored the remote in his Old Media audience’s hands and the mouse at the end of New Media fanatics, and he gave me the same old, same old in the same old, same old way and I got so bored I had to write this just to try and wake up.

And now, to bed.

LB: What’s the Connection between the Silver Surfer and My Favorite Failed Web Site?

by Larry Brody

TVWriter.Com has been a very successful website for a very long time. But that hasn’t kept me from thinking about ways to make our little home away from home a bit more than it’s been.

Got to thinking about a website Dan Davison and I put together about five years ago. The object behind PeerProducer.Com was to – for free – teach newbies how to make the best video they could. We never really got it flying for all the reasons most people don’t get things flying.

But today I ran across this promo video I made with another Dan, Dan Reynolds, President of TV station KTO 8 in the garden spot (I mean this) of Harrison, AR. And, dammit, I don’t care if it only got 187 views. I like it.

And now I’m getting the itch to make more.