Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Recreate The Novels

Here we go, our first submission in our "Recreate A Scene" contest. This comes from Brad D, and he says:



"Here are me and my sister-in-law and nephew recreating The Millionaires when Gillian, Oliver and Charlie are running through the sub-basements of Disney (my
niece's favorite work)."







I just wish you all knew how much ego joy I take in this. Send more! Remember, really good prize to the winner...



B

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Movies Make You Cool

Lots of good geek movieness to check out. Most of it may suck later, but if it's good, then you raise your coolness EQ by saying you found it first. If it's bad, you point to your disclaimers like this and get double points. So here are the top three:



1. 5-25-77 (trailer): the day Star Wars came out. I heart this kid played by John Francis Daley, who also played Sam on Freaks & Geeks. My favority show ever. Really, ever...



2. The Ten (trailer): my pal Craig says it best on his blog.



3. Where The Wild Things Are (pics): odds for most suckage, but we're rooting for it so hard.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Spoliers for JLA/JSA

First, just want to make sure everyone saw yesterday's blog about the contest where you can recreate a scene from any of the novels. Really cool prize for the winner. Promise. Again, see yesterday's blog for details and for the example. Be famous! Win! Get the girl at the end!

Also, check out our MySpace Homepage (http://www.myspace.com/bradmeltzer) for your votes on the next Leaguer. Thanks to Sam for setting it up.

And so...onto JLA/JSA...

Okay, there’s the 11th member. And now, wait till you see Michael Turner and Alex Ross’s issue 12 covers (with Flash tucked in there right below Wonder Woman). For those who want to know why Geo-Force is there too…Alex liked drawing Geo-Force and I wanted to see him do it.
As for the issue, first the most asked questions:


Did you and Geoff know Bart was was going to die when you wrote it?

To give you a sense of timeline, Geoff and I pitched all of The Lightning Saga well before either of us ever knew that Bart was being killed. We always wanted the crossover to have a big ending, and like the original Seven Soldiers story we were playing with (where 7 characters return), we wanted the crossover to end in life, by bringing another Flash back. Then when we found out that Bart was going to die (and let me be clear, I love Bart), it was just unreal timing. (And more on this in our Newsarama interview that’ll go up today).

What was Karate Kid saying in Japanese as he braced himself for the lightning?

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.

What was the Interlac title for the story?

"The Villain Is The Hero In His Own Story"

Was Wally always the planned return?

Interesting. Who says the story’s done?

Who’s in the lightning rod at the end?

Man, that would be a really good excuse for another crossover.And as I told Vaneta over at Newsarama: All of you readers were amazing with the crossover. When the first issue hit, I saw dozens of posts with people explaining who certain Legionaires were, how their histories worked, and of course, how to speak Interlac. That was what I loved when I was growing up—that instant (and best) sense of community that the comic world could bring. So thanks for bringing that back for all of us.


Now, onto issue 11 and Gene Ha...



B

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Recreate Brad's Novels

Remember, we'll talk about the end of the Lightning Saga tomorrow. But today...we got such nice response from our recreation of the escape-from-the-Capitol scene of The Zero Game, that we're leaving the next one up to you.









So...re-stage a scene from any of the novels -- Charlie on the run in The Millionaires...Nora making out in The First Counsel -- any scene you want. Make it mundane or funny, but photo away. And when we're done, I'll come up with a really cool prize for the best one. Not something easy like a signed book. Something truly special.

No crap -- think good prize.

B

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

JLA New Member

Been meaning to do this for awhile, but now, with two days to go, here's your chance to show the world who you want in the League (see the images below to put on your own pages). And since I'm doing this so late, this is our chance to ignore whoever you pick and go with who we already have. The nice part is, there's no fake come-on in this. The choice has been made. The issue has shipped. Your vote counts for nothing (just like in real life and high school elections).

So choose away and be ignored! Yay honesty.

In fact, staying with honesty: We'll check and see which of these is downloaded most and make sure that DC hears it. Honesty part: Of course, I have no idea how to check downloads, or if such technology exists, or how to operate it if it did -- and DC wouldn't care anyway. I'm off the book. They got a new love now.

As for JLA 10, may I suggest you stop reading the internet at this moment. Shut it off. Wait two days. And enjoy a nice surprise. I'll be back here on Thursday to discuss...

And thanks to Brad D for suggesting and designing. Here are the images for you:



Cyborg
Cyborg


Geo-Force
Geo-Force


Green Arrow
Green Arrow




Karate Kid
Karate Kid




Lightning Lad
Lightning Lad




Nightwing
Nightwing




Build Your Own
_

Monday, June 18, 2007

New JLA Writer

Told you it was a good one, didn't I? Yes, DC officially announced Dwayne McDuffie as the new JLA writer starting with issue 13. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I heard he'd said yes all those months ago. The JLU is one of my all time favorites, hence the satellite design and the Javelin in issue 9. And I still credit him for bringing Vixen to the forefront. So hold tight -- the plans are set and the plans are amazing.

I'll be buying every issue and can't wait to see where it all goes.

For some more talk about it: http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=116926

Friday, June 15, 2007

Issue 0

Issue 0

Reader Noah asked this about the hardcover of JLA:

Why no issue #0?



This was a hard one. We went back and forth over and over. Personally, I think the zero issue may be one of the ones I'm most proud of. But I worried that for the novel readers and/or people who just pick up the hardcover, it somehow got in the way of The Tornado's Path storyline. Then, once DC decided that the zero issue would be free for everyone via Free Comic Book Day, we decided, well, everyone will have it, so let's let the first storyline be just that. My hope is to sneak it into the third trade.

B

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Trophy Room

When I first got the JLA job, DC's Georg Brewer and I talked about how cool it would be if we could have a real Trophy Room with real artifacts. In fact, in JLA 7, that trophy room page was written as a double page spread with every item -- big and small -- that in an ideal world, could be created by DC. Sadly, because of page count and keeping Ed on time, the spread was shrunk. But the dream wasn't.

And so, here's first peek at the first item. And yes, I wanted a JLA Communicator or the Despero chess set to be first. But as always, the DC folks still came up with geek goodness.

And yes, the next wave of JLA figures are: Hawkgirl, Amazo, Batman and Dr. Impossible.

Dr. Impossible!

B

Kryptonite Prop PREVIEWS.pdf

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

JLA Hardcover

The first hardcover collecting JLA 1 through 7 (The Tornado's Path) hits today. Yes, it's got all the covers and that usual nonsense. But for the added dough we're asking you to fork over, it also has a commentary section by yours truly and the rest of the creative team (similar to what we did in the trade for Identity Crisis). Lots of original script pieces too so you can see how it really evolved, including how we asked Ed to make Wonder Woman's boobs smaller.

Haven't seen if they pulled off the gatefold/pullout pages from issue 7, but for those who couldn't make it to the comic shop on a monthly basis, here's the collected story for the first time.

And thanks to all who did buy them as they came out. Also, just got the thumbnail for the final issue (12), which is called "Monitor Duty." One day in the JLA life. The one thing they all have in common. Man, will I miss this book.

B

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Anime Bigger Than Sex

The real truth is, America goes to Google for their sex.

B


From Publisher's Weekly - "The Beat"
Anime bigger than sex?



AT-WikiTerms1.4

Compete looks at what people are searching for in Wikipedia, and the results may surprise you:


Anime (26%)

There is a tremendous amount of interest in learning about Pokemon and Naruto. Perhaps these are parents who want to know what their kids are going crazy over. My Mom didn’t know what “He-Man” was until I was a grown man reflecting on how silly Castle Grayskull was. My mom could have used Wikipedia in the 80’s.

Sex (16%)

What’s interesting about the top sex related terms on Wikipedia is that they do not appear to have gratuitous intent. The top terms include very straightforward inquiries on human reproductive ‘parts’ and basic concepts of what sex is and how it is performed. It appears many people are learning about what sex is and how to have it by referencing Wikipedia.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Sopranos and Fisher Price Peoples And Do The Right Thing

First, a note about the end of The Sopranos. Spoilers and shields up and all that...



No show had made me rationalize more than the Sopranos. When I hated Tony, I rationalized why I should love him. When the series dipped in quality, I rationalized it was Shakespeare and a brilliant character study (which it still somewhat is). And when it ends leaving me without yet another big death or revelation, I'm primed for more rationalizing. One minute after the ending, I was annoyed. Even pissed. But this morning, I'm settling... Part of me loves that he didn't do what we all suspected. But as always, different doesn't mean perfect. And so, as I mourn the end of one of my favorites, I again sit with my rationalizing self. I kinda like it more and more. And it kinda sucked. But in a good way.




Meanwhile, I'm kinda done with mash-ups, but this takes special attention -- simply put, I love my peoples.

B

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-1s9MKDrmU

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Prince And His Perfume

As it says in The Book of Fate, in 1985, I did want my first car to be a purple motorcycle. And so, Prince launches his perfume line.

B


Prince: Perfumer. Macy's Shopper. Verizon Subscriber.

Also happens to write songs once in awhile

There's been so much afoot in the purple-hued parade of Prince lately, one never knows where to start. The new record? Residencies in London and L.A.? A fragrance line? A breakthrough in wireless technology? The Michael Jackson rumor? The department store gig? The miniature rock legend stays on his grind.

First, the new record. Though the details, at this point, are a bit scant, we know it's called Planet Earth, and we know that the lead single, "Guitar", is now available for exclusive download through Verizon Wireless. But get this: to get the song, you've gotta hold your phone (which must be V-Cast enabled, which translates, roughly, to "fancy") up to your computer speakers while the "Guitar" video is playing. On some Tron-ass shit, your phone will not only recognize the track, but ask if you'd like to download it for free.

For the rest of us still trying to figure out how to get that New Radicals song off our first gen iPods, this all seems like a scary glimpse into the future.

As for the perfume, Prince will make the world just a little more funky July 7, when he launches 3121, his very own fragrance collection. (Sadly, the perfume is not called Purple Rain or Black Sweat.) According to his website, the fragrance is comprised of "a refreshing sparkle of crisp bergamot, opulent jasmine and gardenia." Alas, "opulent jasmine" isn't exactly "sex and sin," but it could be the jump-off.

Prince's longterm residency Las Vegas' 3121 Club may be heading west for another seven week stint, as he'll reportedly move his regular gig to the 250-seat Blossom Room of Los Angeles' Roosevelt Hotel starting June 15. According to NME.com, Prince will invite a special guest onstage for each of the seven shows, as well as sit in with a jazz ensemble until the early hours. He'll definitely bring the party to London's O2 Arena for 21 nonconsecutive nights (the last of which haven't been firmed up yet) in August and September.

Also, there's a rumor going around that Michael Jackson asked Prince to tour with him and Prince said no. Good call, man!

Oh yeah, and he's playing at the Macy's in Minneapolis on the day his perfume comes out. I dunno, it's Prince. Dude can do whatever he wants.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Google Told To 'Suck It!'

This is why book publishers are nerdier and cooler than Hollywood suits.

B


Book Publisher Resorts To Cheap Stunts: Steals Google Laptops

Apparently the CEO of Macmillan Publishers decided to swipe two Google laptops from Google's booth at BookExpo America, wait for Google employees to notice the missing laptops (took about an hour) and then claim that he was just giving Google "a taste of their own medicine."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Electric Slide II (No Boogaloo Jokes)

The best part is that we find out why he gave the dance 22 steps. So insane it's amazing.

B


The copyright buzz from the 'Electric Slide'

By Daniel Terdiman

Story last modified Mon Jun 04 10:04:03 PDT 2007


The "Electric Slide" now has a Creative Commons license. Just how the iconic line dance came to be governed by that Internet-friendly license starts with a video of a software engineer and his friends having a go at the '70s moves.

In February, Richard Silver, the creator of the dance, persuaded YouTube to remove the video, which the San Francisco engineer shot at a recent convention.

Shocked by the takedown notice by Silver--which was based on a Digital Millennium Copyright Act claim--the engineer, Kyle Machulis, turned to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which quickly adopted his cause.

The argument: that the video contained nothing but noncommercial footage of the dance moves, and should therefore be fair use. The EFF quickly filed a lawsuit against Silver on Machulis' behalf.

And while experts said that it's possible to copyright choreography, few thought Silver could prevail in cases of noncommercial use.

On May 22, Silver and the EFF announced that they had come to an arrangement: the EFF agreed to drop its lawsuit, and in return, Silver said he would no longer pursue DMCA claims against anyone portraying his dance steps in a noncommercial manner.

Further, the parties agreed that from that point on, the Electric Slide would be protected under a Creative Commons license granting full noncommercial use rights to anyone wanting to shoot and post video of the dance.

Earlier this week, Silver gave a telephone interview to CNET News.com. His New York attorney, Mark Beigelman, whom he had retained to help with the EFF lawsuit and who seems to have helped Silver understand that he would likely lose in court, unexpectedly insisted on participating in the interview, often stepping in for Silver on responses.

During the interview, the two talked about Silver's position on public use of his choreography, the reasons he got YouTube to remove Machulis' and others' videos and which stars have done the dance the right way on the silver screen.

Q: What's your take on the settlement with the EFF?

Mark Beigelman: We're thrilled with it. It really conforms to everything that Rick has been trying to do with this. It relates purely for noncommercial use, which Rick has never had a problem with. The EFF lawsuit was somewhat of a surprise to him in light of the fact that the only thing he did to try to police it with regard to noncommercial use was with regard to the way the dance was actually done.

Richard Silver: Yeah, my choreography was 22 steps because my birthday is January 22. I wanted something that was uniquely mine, and so I created a dance with 22 steps. And the dances that are being portrayed on YouTube and MySpace and wherever are doing an 18-step dance instead of a 22-step dance. I fought for the last 28 years trying to get it not done as an 18-step dance, and now with all this being presented on the Internet, I had a problem with it.

What did you feel was the harm of this being caught on video at a convention and posted noncommercially on YouTube?

Silver: The only harm is that choreography is being presented incorrectly. By people watching it and learning it from them incorrectly. And prolonging what I've been fighting for for the last 30 years since I created the dance. Every night that I taught the dance I had a dream that someone was going to leave my class and teach it incorrectly and it was going to go around the world incorrectly and I was going to spend the rest of my life trying to correct it. And that is exactly what has happened.

Why do people get it wrong?

Silver: Because of places like (line-dance Web site) Kickit and line dance videos that have been presented by Diane Horner and a few other people that presented it as an 18-step dance without my permission. They posted it to the Internet and made line dance videos and sold them with the incorrect choreography.

And they called it the Electric Slide?

Silver: Yes.

What was your reaction when you found out the EFF was filing a lawsuit?

Silver: I was shocked. I couldn't understand why they would even be involved in this. I had gone on YouTube and found a number of people who were putting up notices where they were teaching line dancing. I noticed that there were some videos of dance classes where a teacher had a bunch of students and was teaching the dance incorrectly and eventually I just went through and (got YouTube) to pull them all off.

Beigelman: Rick is not a lawyer. He is a choreographer artist and his objection from day one was not just use of the dance. I think it was misinterpreted by many that his objection was to (any use of) the actual dance. But if it was done properly, if it was done with 22 steps, he had no objection.

Silver: There were a number of videos that I left on, that had 22 steps. I only pulled the ones off that were doing it incorrectly.

Beigelman: You know, we've both come to the conclusion that the more people that do it in the right way, in a noncommercial way, on the Internet, it's phenomenal for the dance. It only makes Rick's creation even more popular and valuable and more part of the American cultural mainstream. The issue of whether or not people learn it or get to know it in a 22-step version or an 18-step version is something that I think we're best to kind of deal with in more of an education realm than just pulling things off the Internet. And that that was the spirit by which Mr. Silver and I negotiated with the EFF.

What was the rationale behind agreeing to this Creative Comments arrangement?

Beigelman: The only thing that we really would object to in terms of the use of the dance is it being used in a commercial way. So, once we established with EFF that the objection was not necessarily the use but more of what this crowd (in Machulis' clip) did and how they did it, then we realized that we had really no argument with their position. They made some suggestions as to how we could further support the fair use, which we were very much in support of anyway, and I encouraged Rick to be very open-minded with this. I think that it was a terrific solution, a win-win for everybody.

What about the inevitable situation in the future where someone at a wedding shoots a video of people doing the 18-step version and posts it on YouTube, and they have no idea there's been a settlement? Are you going to say, "Hey, this is the wrong dance, take it down?"

Beigelman: If it's used in a noncommercial way, we acknowledge that we have no right to ask them to take it down or to have it taken down. We may on certain occasions just inform them that, "By the way, it's done improperly." What's more important for Rick is to make sure that the commercial exploitations that actually teach the dance do it in the proper 22-step (form), and we have some control over that. Going after noncommercial use of the dance is a waste of time.

You're saying it's a waste of time--but that's precisely what happened with Kyle Machulis, right?

Beigelman: Yes. It was a waste of time and a mistake, and it took perhaps a lawsuit and Rick getting an attorney helping him promote the commercial exploitation in a proper way to freely acknowledge that.

As a contact creator, what is your take on the EFF's position that we're in a new era and that new technology really is forcing us to re-examine how people share information?

Silver: I think in many ways they're doing a great job and otherwise I think they're publicity hounds and picking at straws. But they certainly opened my eyes to what I can and can't do with my copyright.

Do you feel like that's a good thing?

Silver: In many ways, yes. I still have a problem with people doing my choreography incorrectly, but we're working through that and I now have a great lawyer who's helping me control this.

So, from your perspective, who in the movies has done the dance the right way and who hasn't?

Silver: Joe Pesci in The Super and The Parkers TV show, episode eight, are the only ones who did it correctly. Those were both before 2000.

But there have been movies where it's been done incorrectly?

Silver: Since 2000, there have been a number of movies, (including) Keanu Reeves in The Replacements.

And have you contacted the producers?

Silver: Yes.

What's happened there?

Silver: I sent them a bill and they're waiting for the copyright office to send me my paperwork to pay it.

And in the case of The Super and The Parkers, did you want to get compensation for the use of the dance there?

Silver: Yes, I've written to both, and we're still in negotiations.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Brad On Smallville

Apparently, if you buy the new Smallville Season 6 DVD (available September 18th), you get to see yours truly commenting during a 30-minute documentary they've created on the character Green Arrow.

Haven't seen the finished result yet, but they clearly went all out -- getting interviews with all us new guys including Kevin Smith, Judd Winick, Phil Hester, Mark Waid, Dan DiDio, Mike Carlin, and Bob Schreck, but most important with the real heroes, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, and more.

I spent nearly an hour yapping about all things Ollie, so when it's all edited and done, I just can't wait to see just how bald I look.

I love Ollie.

B

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Flynt Screwing Us Again

Don't love giving Larry Flynt even more free publicity, but it reminds me of a lunch I had at the Four Seasons in LA (I'm going to hell just for that) a few months back where I looked over, and at the next table was Larry Flynt eating with Larry King. It was a meeting of Larrys and I spent the entire lunch waiting for Hagman to show up.

B

Hustler offers $1 million for sex smut on Congress

Sun Jun 3, 11:19 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hustler magazine is looking for some scandalous sex in Washington again -- and willing to pay for it.

"Have you had a sexual encounter with a current member of the United States Congress or a high-ranking government official?" read a full-page advertisement taken out by Larry Flynt's pornographic magazine in Sunday's Washington Post.

It offered $1 million (500,000 pounds) for documented evidence of illicit intimate relations with a congressman, senator or other prominent officeholder. A toll-free number and e-mail address were provided.

The last time Flynt made such an offer was in October 1998 during the drive to impeach President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

In the following months, the pornographic publishing mogul threatened to expose one or tow members of the Republican Congress pushing for the impeachment, according to media reports at the time.

That long-awaited expose, published months after Clinton's trial, dropped no bombshells, according to a 1999 Slate.com article, but Flynt's efforts played a role in the resignation of House-speaker designate Bob Livingston of Louisiana.

Flynt's target this time, if he has one, was not immediately known.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Bradbury Says Fahrenheit Misinterpreted

I just love that he doesn't go to the ceremony because they don't let him speak. Screw the handshaking...

B



Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted
L.A.’s august Pulitzer honoree says it was never about censorship

By AMY E. BOYLE JOHNSTON
Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - 7:00 pm

When the Pulitzer Prizes were handed out in May during a luncheon at Columbia University, two special citations were given. One went to John Coltrane (who died in 1967), the fourth time a jazz musician has been honored. The other went to Ray Bradbury, the first time a writer of science fiction and fantasy has been honored.

Bradbury, a longtime Los Angeles resident who leads an active civic life and even drops the Los Angeles Times letters to the editor on his views of what ails his town, did not attend, telling the Pulitzer board his doctor did not want him to travel.

But the real reason, he told the L.A. Weekly, had less to do with the infirmities of age (he turns 87 in August) than with the fact that recipients only shake hands with Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia University’s president, and smile for a photograph.

He wanted to give a speech, but no remarks are allowed. “Not even a paragraph,” he says with disdain.

In his pastel-yellow house in upscale Cheviot Hills, where he has lived for more than 50 years, Bradbury greeted me in his sitting room. He wore his now-standard outfit of a blue dress shirt with a white collar and a jack-o’-lantern tie (Halloween is his favorite day) and white socks. This ensemble is in keeping with Bradbury’s arrested development. George Clayton Johnson, who gave us Logan’s Run, says, “Ray has always been 14 going on 15.”

Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how people do not understand his most literary work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. It is widely taught in junior high and high schools and is for many students the first time they learn the names Aristotle, Dickens and Tolstoy.

Now, Bradbury has decided to make news about the writing of his iconographic work and what he really meant. Fahrenheit 451 is not, he says firmly, a story about government censorship. Nor was it a response to Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose investigations had already instilled fear and stifled the creativity of thousands.

This, despite the fact that reviews, critiques and essays over the decades say that is precisely what it is all about. Even Bradbury’s authorized biographer, Sam Weller, in The Bradbury Chronicles, refers to Fahrenheit 451 as a book about censorship.

Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.

“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen.

His fear in 1953 that television would kill books has, he says, been partially confirmed by television’s effect on substance in the news. The front page of that day’s L.A. Times reported on the weekend box-office receipts for the third in the Spider-Man series of movies, seeming to prove his point.

“Useless,” Bradbury says. “They stuff you with so much useless information, you feel full.” He bristles when others tell him what his stories mean, and once walked out of a class at UCLA where students insisted his book was about government censorship. He’s now bucking the widespread conventional wisdom with a video clip on his Web site (http://www.raybradbury.com/at_home_clips.html), titled “Bradbury on censorship/television.”

As early as 1951, Bradbury presaged his fears about TV, in a letter about the dangers of radio, written to fantasy and science-fiction writer Richard Matheson. Bradbury wrote that “Radio has contributed to our ‘growing lack of attention.’... This sort of hopscotching existence makes it almost impossible for people, myself included, to sit down and get into a novel again. We have become a short story reading people, or, worse than that, a QUICK reading people.”

He says the culprit in Fahrenheit 451 is not the state — it is the people. Unlike Orwell’s 1984, in which the government uses television screens to indoctrinate citizens, Bradbury envisioned television as an opiate. In the book, Bradbury refers to televisions as “walls” and its actors as “family,” a truth evident to anyone who has heard a recap of network shows in which a fan refers to the characters by first name, as if they were relatives or friends.

The book’s story centers on Guy Montag, a California fireman who begins to question why he burns books for a living. Montag eventually rejects his authoritarian culture to join a community of individuals who memorize entire books so they will endure until society once again is willing to read.

Bradbury imagined a democratic society whose diverse population turns against books: Whites reject Uncle Tom’s Cabin and blacks disapprove of Little Black Sambo. He imagined not just political correctness, but a society so diverse that all groups were “minorities.” He wrote that at first they condensed the books, stripping out more and more offending passages until ultimately all that remained were footnotes, which hardly anyone read. Only after people stopped reading did the state employ firemen to burn books.

Most Americans did not have televisions when Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, and those who did watched 7-inch screens in black and white. Interestingly, his book imagined a future of giant color sets — flat panels that hung on walls like moving paintings. And television was used to broadcast meaningless drivel to divert attention, and thought, away from an impending war.

Bradbury’s latest revelations might not sit well in L.A.’s television industry, where Scott Kaufer, a longtime television writer and producer, argues, “Television is good for books and has gotten more people to read them simply by promoting them,” via shows like This Week and Nightline.

Kaufer says he hopes Bradbury “will be good enough in hindsight to see that instead of killing off literature, [TV] has given it an entire boost.” He points to the success of fantasy author Stephen King in television and film, noting that when Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, another unfounded fear was also taking hold — that television would destroy the film industry.

And in fact, Bradbury became famous because his stories were translated for television, beginning in 1951 for the show Out There. Eventually he had his own program, The Ray Bradbury Theater, on HBO.

Bradbury spends most of his time now in a small space on the second floor of his home that contains books and mementos. There is his Emmy from The Halloween Tree, an Oscar that belonged to a friend who died, a sculpture of a dinosaur and various Halloween decorations. Bradbury, before a stroke left him in a wheelchair, typed in the basement, which is filled with stuffed animals, toys, fireman hats and bottles of dandelion wine. He referred to these props as “metaphors,” totems he drew on to spark his imagination and drive away the demons of the blank page.

Beginning in Arizona when his parents bought him a toy typewriter, Bradbury has written a short story a week since the 1930s. Now he dictates his tales over the phone, each weekday between 9 a.m. and noon, to his daughter Alexandria.

Bradbury has always been a fan, and advocate, of popular culture despite his criticisms of it. Yet he harbors a distrust of “intellectuals.” Without defining the term, he says another reason why he rarely leaves L.A. to travel to New York is “their intellectuals.”

Dana Gioia, a poet who is chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and who wrote a letter in support of granting Bradbury a Pulitzer honor, compared him to J.D. Salinger, Jack London and Edgar Allan Poe. Another supporter wrote that Bradbury’s works “have become the sort of classics that kids read for fun and adults reread for their wisdom and artistry.”

In June, Gauntlet Press will release Match to Flame, a collection of 20 short stories by Bradbury that led up to Fahrenheit 451. Pointing to his unpublished proofreading version of the upcoming collection, Bradbury says that rereading his stories made him cry. “It’s hard to believe I wrote such stories when I was younger,” he says.

His book still stands as a classic. But one of L.A.’s best-known residents wants it understood that when he wrote it he was far more concerned with the dulling effects of TV on people than he was on the silencing effect of a heavy-handed government. While television has in fact superseded reading for some, at least we can be grateful that firemen still put out fires instead of start them.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Colbert...AND Amy Sedaris

The Grand Central launch party was all snazz. And did manage to meet Colbert. Started by asking about comics, then stumbled through thanking him for mentioning The Book of Fate on his show. With each second tick I embarrassed myself more. A full 30 seconds of just fawning. I was 17 again -- talking to the pretty girl and regretting every word that left my lips.

BUT...got to meet Amy Sedaris, who I was told was hysterical in person, and who was honestly one of the funniest people I've ever met. Truly. And I'm a comic snob and don't toss words like that lightly. Made my entire weekend.

Otherwise, saw lots of authors and stole lots of books (AJ Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically -- go AJ).

Thanks to all who came to the DC booth and the Grand Central booths for signings. Made me feel so lucky all over again.

B