Not a Blog

Moveable Feasts

January 11, 2021 at 8:15 am
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A few weeks ago, while up in my mountain fastness, I rewatched MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, the Woody Allen film about a struggling writer visiting modern Paris (played by Owen Wilson) who finds himself travelling back in time to Paris of the 20s, where he finds himself bumping into Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Dali, Picasso, and the other artists and writers who made that such a special time.   It’s a lovely, entertaining movie about nostalgia.  I have enjoyed it before and I expect I will enjoy it again.

Watching it, however, made me realize that I had never read Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST, his memoir about his days in Paris as a hungry young writer in the 20s.   That book, and the times it chronicles, were obviously what inspired Allen to do MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.   I have never been a huge Hemingway fan, as it happens — I have read several of his novels, of course, though by no means all, and when I look back on the writers of that era, I find I much prefer F. Scott Fitzgerald — but I was curious, so I went and ordered the book and devoured it as soon as it arrived.

A few random thoughts–
— Woody Allen really nails Hemingway in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, hoo boy,
— I liked A MOVEABLE FEAST more than I have any of Hemingway’s novels, truth be told.   It was a vivid glimpse back into a vanished time and place, and into the author himself as a young man.   The book was not entirely what I expected.   Parts of it were moving and nostalgic, but other parts were surprisingly funny, like Hemingway’s efforts to assure Fitzgerald that his dick was not too small by showing him statues in the Louvre.   Other parts were sad, like the account of his estrangement from Gertrude Stein.   And his thoughts on life, love, and writing are always fascinating,
— Hemingway could not have been an easy friend; his judgements of others could be scathing and acidic.   Alice Roosevelt Longworth would have wanted him sitting near her, for certain,
— whatever golden glow might light the moveable feast of Paris in the 20s, I can never escape the knowledge that after the 20s came the 30s, when the lights went out all over Europe.   You know.  Nazis.   And that makes me think of the world today, and shiver.

Thing is, while A MOVEABLE FEAST is about Paris in the 20s, it was not written until decades later.   It was, in fact, published posthumously, after Hemingway took his own life.   He was writing and editing it during the last years of his life… an old man, rich and famous and sad, looking back on his youth when he was poor and struggling and unknown, but alive and vital, in love with his first wife and with Paris, drunk on dreams of what the future might hold, of all the possibilities that lay before him.   The whole book very much exemplifies what Woody Allen was talking about in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.   Papa, in those final years, is writing of the time and place when he was happiest… or at least the time and place he remembers being happiest…  but I do wonder whether or not he is only remembering the good stuff.

Reading it, I could not help but reflect on my own life.   We all have our own moveable feasts.   For me, I think, it was science fiction fandom in the 70s.   I was a struggling writer then, just as Hemingway was in the 20s; writing, writing, going to workshops, collecting rejections, trying to get better, never knowing when the next sale might come.   No, I did not get to hang with Scott and Zelda, or Hemingway, or Gertrude Stein, or Dali… but I had Howard Waldrop and Jack Dann and Lisa Tuttle, I drank with the Haldemans, I hunted the hallways of worldcon with Gardner Dozois looking for the Secret Pro Party, went skinny-dipping in hotel pools and met Parris in a sauna.   When I got hungry I went looking for an editor with an expense account who might buy me a meal (elsewise I was scrounging in the con suite).   Giants walked the halls in those days, and I had the good fortune to meet a few of them, if only to tell them what their work had meant to me.  I shook the hands of C.L. Moore and Edmond Hamilton and Murray Leinster, I had actual conversations with Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein and Ray Bradbury and Ted Sturgeon, I got to share meals with Julie Schwartz and Wilson Tucker, with Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg.

Like Hemingway in Paris, I never had much money.   I shared rooms at cons, slept on floors or in a bathtub, got to the cons on a bus or in the back seat of a friend’s car… walked to the hotels from the bus station, lugging my suitcase in my hand (no wheels on luggage in those days) since I did not have the money for a cab.   Were those the bad parts?  Or the good parts?  From 2020, it is not easy to say.   They make me smile now, as I look back.   But if I try, I know that there were really bad parts too.   Like Hemingway, though, I choose not to dwell on them.  The world was a fucked-up place, then as now, but fandom was a refuge; warm, welcoming, strange (but in a good way), a community unlike any I had ever known, united by a shared love of our peculiar little branch of literature and the people who wrote it.

To quote one of Hemingway’s contemporaries, however, you can’t go home again.  By the time Hemingway sat down to write A MOVEABLE FEAST in those last years of his life, he surely knew that the Paris he had known and loved in the 20s was gone forever… and the fandom that I knew and loved in the 70s is gone as well.   This year the worldcon is in Washinton DC, in the very same hotel where the 1974 worldcon was held… the worldcon where I lost my first Hugo, accepted Lisa Tuttle’s Campbell Award, and prowled the halls till dawn with Gargy, looking for parties we never found.   There is a part of me that somehow hopes that going back to the same hotel in the same city, I might somehow recapture something of those nights.   But my head knows better.   My head knows those days are gone forever, along with so many of the people that I shared them with.    I wonder how often Papa Hemingway returned to Paris in the 40s and 50s, and what he thought of the place when he did.

Anyway… I quite like MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, and I loved A MOVEABLE FEAST.   Maybe you will too.

 

 

 

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

Stuff to Watch

September 4, 2020 at 10:00 am
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I write most days, sometimes into the evenings.

At night, after supper, I read, watch television, or screen movies (I used to love going to the movies, since the best place to see a film is in a theatre with an audience around you, but the pandemic has put an end to that for the nonce).

A couple of things I have really enjoyed lately…

Parris and I binged on HBO’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS when I was back in Santa Fe, and loved it.   Gorgeous production, great cast (loved Lin-Manuel as the aeronaut), and SO much better than the feature film.   Plus armored bears.   Can’t go wrong with armored bears.  The world needs more armored bears.    All the daemons are cool too.   (Hate that damn monkey).   If you’re a Pullman fan, give this a look.  And if you’re not, watch it anyway, it may make you a Pullman fan.

And for something completely different, there’s BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, a lovely little feel-good film (based on a true story) about a Pakistani kid in Luton, England who becomes the world’s biggest Bruce Springsteen fan.   I think I’ve seen this one four times already.  Every time the shift changes and a new minion arrives at my fortress of solitude, I watch it again so they can see it.   When I am feeling down, this one brings me back up.   The Boss knows all the secrets of life… but, hey, he’s from Jersey!   The music canNOT be beat, and I like some of the choices the filmmakers made, like the lyrics coming up on screen.   With rare exceptions, I am not usually a big fan of musicals… but this one rocks.  (If it even counts as a musical).

 

Current Mood: geeky geeky

Bloggity Bloggity

May 25, 2020 at 8:00 am
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History buffs, baseball fans, and Wild Carders alike will enjoy the newest post on the Wild Cards blog, John Jos. Miller’s “Annotated Long Night at the Palmer House,” touching on all the references, hidden and fictional, in his acclaimed LOW CHICAGO interstitial.

The Annotated “A Long Night At The Palmer House”

When he is not writing Wild Cards stories or watching the New York Mets, John is a huge fan of… ah… strange cinema.   Of late he has been doing some fun blog posts for our friends over at BLACK GATE, talking about some of his odder favorites.  Check it out at:

https://www.blackgate.com/2020/05/12/son-of-19-movies-the-good-the-bad-and-the-weird-edition/#more-427597

 

Current Mood: amused amused

This, That, and T’Other Thing

April 14, 2020 at 3:41 pm
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No big news here, but it has been a week or so since my last blog post, so I thought I would say hi.   I am still up in the mountains, doing the social distancing rag, and writing WINDS OF WINTER.   I have good days and bad days, but I am making progress.

Most of the world remains closed, including my theatre and bookshop, the Jean Cocteau Cinema and Beastly Books.   I had originally announced that we would re-examine the situation come April 15.   That date is now upon us, and it is obvious that I was wildly optimistic in hoping we might even consider re-opening then.  No.  Won’t work.   We’re going to remain shut until JUNE 1.  Then, once again, we will revisit the question, once we see what state the world is in.

I am continuing to pay my staff during this closure, something I wish more small businesses would do.   Beastly Books is still selling signed books by mailorder.  Every order helps keep us afloat, so please take a look at our offerings: https://jeancocteaucinema.com/product-category/signed-books/

Along the same lines, though we cannot of course open our theatre to the public while coronavirus still rages, the JCC has gone virtual, and is screening new and old movies that way.  For details on our Virtual Feature of the Week, go to https://jeancocteaucinema.com/

Hollywood has largely closed down as well, at least as far as actual production is concerned.  (If this pandemic goes on long enough, I wonder if the pipeline will go dry, and we will start to run out of new films and television shows.  If so, sheltering in place is going to get an order of magnitude harder.  Television right now is doing a lot to keep us all sane — and no, not the news, which has the opposite effect).   But while nothing is being filmed right now, development is continuing apace, since writers can still write at home.  The only thing I am writing myself is THE WINDS OF WINTER, as I have said many times… but with my producer’s hat on, I am still involved in a number of exciting new shows for HBO, and a few film projects as well.  When and if any of these make it to the screen, well, that’s always the question… but I do know that Ryan Condal and his team are roaring ahead on the scripts for HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, and that one has a full season’s order from HBO.  As for the other stuff I may or may not be involved in, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you all.

Oh, of course, I am doing a lot of reading these days.  Rereading too.  Some of my favorite writers are Robert A. Heinlein, Roger Zelazny, Tony Hillerman, Nnedi Okorafor, Howard Waldrop.  Oh, and that GRRM guy did some good stuff too, before he started that fantasy series.   Some of his old stories might even make good movies, donchaknow.  (No, seriously, you guys should check out DREAMSONGS.  Signed copies available from Beastly Books).

I have also been trading emails with my friends down in New Zealand.   CoNZealand, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, has also gone virtual in response to the crisis.   A prudent move, but a challenging one.   As this year’s Virtual Toastmaster, I am still going to be hosting the Hugo Awards… virtually.  That should be… interesting.  Especially for me, since I am one of the least tech savvy guys in fandom.   I still write my novels with WordStar 4.0 on a DOS computer, after all, and when I interface with the internet it is mainly through this blog.  (Good thing Howard Waldrop isn’t going to be hosting.  He still works on a manual typewriter).

Anyway, the Kiwis have some smart guys working for them, and they assure me everything will go fine.   They are working out the tech now, and we hope to have several trial runs before The Big Night.   We are all certainly going to try to do our best.  I expect there will be glitches and mistakes, many of them doubtless mine, but I do hope all those looking in will be patient and understanding.  In any case, the rockets will be handed out one way or t’other, though the actual delivery may have to be entrusted to DHL or Federal Express.

Some cool stuff happening with WILD CARDS that I should mention.   Check out our Wild Cards website, if you haven’t seen it in a while.  Lots of great content there for you to explore, including a new blog post every two weeks by a rotating cast of our amazing Wild Cards writers.  You will find it at https://www.wildcardsworld.com/   

We also have a brand new Wild Cards original coming out at the end of this month from Harper Collins Voyager in the UK.   The title is THREE KINGS, and it’s a full mosaic,  was edited by Melinda M. Snodgrass (yours truly assisting), and features contributions from  Peter Newman, Peadar O’Guilin, Caroline Spector, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Melinda herself.  It’s a sequel to KNAVES OVER QUEENS, and like that volume it is set entirely in the British Isles and features an English and Irish cast.   (More on that one in a later post).

There’s more, of course.   There’s always more.   But this post has grown long enough, and Westeros is calling.

Current Mood: busy busy

At the Irish Film Institute with Robby the Robot

September 12, 2019 at 10:59 am
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One of the highlights of my time in Dublin was my visit to Altair IV, courtesy of the kind folks at the Irish Film Institute.  The IFI has an impressive facility there in Temple Bar, and as part of the celebrations of worldcon, they invited me to present one of my favorite films, and speak about why I loved it.   I was delighted to do so.

No one who knows me or has read this blog for long will be even remotely surprised by the movie I chose: the MGM science fiction film, FORBIDDEN PLANET, from 1956, a classic whose influence on all the SF films and television shows that followed was profound.   Starring Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Robby the Robot.

((I couldn’t bring Robby with me to Dublin, alas, but I did bring Commander J.J. Adams and Altaira)). 

Maura McHugh joined me afterwards for a discussion of the film, and some Q&A with the audience.  Listen in, if you’d like (sorry, it’s audio only).   And then go out and watch the movie again.   It’s still great… and I hope to hell that they NEVER remake it.   They’d only mess it up.

Current Mood: geeky geeky

Two Fanboys

July 1, 2019 at 12:16 pm
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Leonard Maltin, a legend among film critics, and his daughter Jessie Maltin were in Santa Fe last week, for a visit to the Jean Cocteau Cinema.   I taped a segment with Leonard for his podcast, and afterward Leonard and Jessie did a talk, a Q&A, and a booksigning at the theatre.  Great fun.

We discovered that Leonard and I sprang from the same roots.   We were both Jersey boys who got involved in fanzine fandom at an early age.   While I was writing superhero stories (Manta Ray!  Dr. Weird!  Garizan the Mechanical Warrior!!!) for the comic fanzines of the 60s, he started his own film fanzine.

You can hear our whole conversation on his podcast, Maltin On Movies http://maltinonmovies.libsyn.com/george-rr-martin

Leonard also blogged about his fanzine days and his visit to the JCC.   You can read the full text here:

We filmed the talk by Leonard and Jessie as well, and will be uploading that to the JCC website soon.

Meanwhile, for all you Leonard Maltin fans out there, we have autographed copies of four of his books available from the Jean Cocteau website — along with signed books by Alan Brennert, Neil Gaiman, Lee Child, Marlon James, John Hodgman, Lisa See, Diana Gabaldon, Carrie Vaughn, Melinda Snodgrass, Robert Jackson Bennett, Rebecca Roanhorse, Daniel Abraham, and many many more… along with yours truly.  Check out the full listings at:

https://jeancocteaucinema.com/shop/

Current Mood: geeky geeky

Stuff and Nonsense

May 4, 2019 at 9:24 am
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Just a few jots about various things going on these days, in my life and in the world at large.

Saw the new Avengers movie last night.  ENDGAME is amazing.  Kudos to the writers and director.  I cannot believe they got all those characters into one film, and still managed to do them all justice.   The final battle was epic, exciting, thrilling, full of twists and turns… and strangely beautiful.  But the character scenes earlier in the film really made it for me.   The opening with Hawkeye, the Ant-Man scenes, Tony Stark’s moments communing with his helm… so many more.  There’s plenty of action here, but this is not just A Big Dumb Action movie, of which there are far too many these days.   Stan Lee would have been proud.  Could he ever have dreamed that all those characters he and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and the rest of the Marvel team created in the early 60s would one day come to dominate global culture?  There’s an amazing story for you.

Oh… and yay for the rat.   The unsung hero.   They should make him an honorary Avenger.

On other fronts… my imaginary history book, FIRE & BLOOD, had a good long run on the NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller List, hanging on for more than three months in the top ten before finally sliding off.   But hey, hey, hey, as of this week, I’m back!   My Targaryen history has reappeared at #9 on the hardcover fiction list, up from #12.   You can’t keep a good dragon down.

(You can get autographed copies of FIRE & BLOOD from the bookstore at my Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe.  We also have signed copies of all my other books, as well as novels by many other writers… most recently, Alan Brennert and Marlon James).

The graphic novel of STARPORT, adapted and drawn by the talented Raya Golden from a television pilot I wrote in 1994, is also out, and doing nicely.   Raya did a beautiful job, and there’s a chance that there will be more STARPORT graphic novels coming your way in the future.  ((Based on my world and characters, but no, not written by me, I don’t have the time, so calm on down)).   Who knows?  Maybe even the TV series it was originally meant to be.  And wouldn’t THAT be wonderfully exciting.

Oh, and speaking of television, don’t believe everything you read.   Internet reports are notoriously unreliable.  We have had five different GAME OF THRONES successor shows in development (I mislike the term “spinoffs”) at HBO, and three of them are still moving forward nicely.   The one I am not supposed to call THE LONG NIGHT will be shooting later this year, and two other shows remain in the script stage, but are edging closer.   What are they about?  I cannot say.   But maybe some of you should pick up a copy of FIRE & BLOOD and come up with your own theories.

Purely as a viewer, no connection whatsoever, I am enjoying the hell out of the new HBO drama GENTLEMAN JACK.  Only two episodes in, but it’s very well done.  And of course, VEEP is as funny as ever… much funnier than real politics.

Out in the real world, I was pleased that Joe Biden finally announced his candidacy for president.   There are a lot of good Democrats running, maybe too many, and I’d probably vote for any one of them over the present blot upon the Oval Office.  The main things I want in a nominee, however, are twofold: (1) someone who can beat Trump, and (2) someone who would actually be a good/ great president.   Biden qualifies on both counts.  Also, the speech he gave announcing his run was kickass… and so, so true.  I wish him well.

Lots lots more going on, but I have pages to write.   ’nuff said.

 

 

 

Current Mood: busy busy

GRRM Talks JRRT

April 29, 2019 at 3:57 pm
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Modern fantasy would not exist without J.R.R. Tolkien and LORD OF THE RINGS… and that most definitely includes my own A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.   Tolkien’s work redefined fantasy, and all of us who have followed in his footsteps owe him a profound debt.

But who was the man behind the Shire, the Hobbits, and the One Ring?

TOLKIEN, the new motion picture about JRRT’s early life, aspires to answer that question.

I’m thrilled to say that I’m heading out to LA for the premiere, May 8 at the Regency Westwood Village.   After the film, I will be moderating a discussion and Q-and-A with stars Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, and director Dome Karukoski.

 

For those of you who cannot make it to the premiere in person, have no fear.   We’ll be streaming the Q&A on Facebook.

 Head to the TOLKIEN Facebook page (@TolkienFilm) and tune into the Live Stream that will start at 9PM PST. Here is the link to the Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/TolkienFilm/  

See you in the Shire!

 

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Yay for Captain Marvel

March 11, 2019 at 10:25 am
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The newest Marvel movie, CAPTAIN MARVEL, is a lot of fun.

As an old (very very old) Marvel fanboy, I am a little saddened that they dropped the original Captain Marvel (not counting Fawcett’s Big Red Cheese), the Kree warrior Mar-Vell, from the continuity.   THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL was one of Marvel’s classics, way back when.   Maybe that’s just me, though.   I am kind of a purist when it comes to adaptations.

Considered just on its own terms, the movie is hugely entertaining.   I look forward to seeing how the Marvel teams uses the captain in the forthcoming Avengers movie.  Once she comes fully into her powers, she is far and away the most powerful character in the MCU.   She could eat Iron Man for lunch and have Thor for dessert, with a side of Dr. Strange.   Thanos is in trouble now.

Be sure to stay to the very very end of the credits.   The film has TWO Easter Eggs at the end, not just one.   In the theatre where I saw the movie, most of the audience left after the first of those, and missed the second.

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

Coming to Santa Fe

March 3, 2017 at 9:37 pm
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We have some really cool events scheduled for the Jean Cocteau in March and April.

On Monday, March 13, we’ll be screening the second season premiere of HAP & LEONARD, and Joe R. Lansdale his own self will be returning to Santa Fe to host the show, talk some, and scrawl in some of your books.

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Then, just a few days later, on Thursday March 16 and Friday March 17, H.P. LOVECRAFT will be returning from the dead, to our stage. That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die. Aiee aiee shub niggarath, the goat with a thousand young…

On Saturday, April 8, we have a special screening of the classic animated film WATERSHIP DOWN. We’re doing this one in connection with Rabbit Rescue, who will be offering free pet bunnies for the attendees to take home. C’mon, boys and girls, help Hazel and Bigwig find a new warren.

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On Saturday April 15, JOHN NICHOLS, author of the MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR and many other great titles, will be visiting us for some conversation and booksigning, and we’ll be screening the film of his novel in honor of his visit.

Just two days later, on Monday April 17, JOHN SCALZI will be in town on his COLLAPSING EMPIRE book tour. We’ll talk, he’ll sign, a good time will be had by all.

And on April 21-22, we’ll have a return visit from the magician FRANCIS MENOTTI, who stumped Penn & Teller and filled the JCC the last time he was in town.

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A number of these events are a good bet to sell out, so if you’d like to join us for any of them, I’d advise going to our website to secure your tickets now.