June 23, 1962

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nuff said?


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was much fun in the theater: It barrelled along satisfyingly with just the right number of Eek! and Yes! moments.

And I picked up the hardcover by James Rollins, "Based on the story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson, and the screenplay by David Koepp."

It's nicely straightforward, an excellent reminder of the entertainment and a faithful transcription of the script as performed on screen, along with some bonuses. Such as this paragraph on Page 78, featuring the confrontation when Dean Stanforth (played by Jim Broadbent) breaks the news to Indy that he's in trouble.

Indy reminds him, "They're good kids."



Wii way more!

I took it for granted that acquiring the Wii console would be the end of problems in working out with Nintendo's gaming system. After finding that the basic games did, indeed, get me more active (if you sign on as a beginner, Bowling -- for example -- is very forgiving), I also realized that (at least the way I played them) the games provided most exercise for my right arm and little else.

Even understanding that the way I was playing Tennis was not the way that a tennis-player would play tennis, I became more interested in the Wii Fit equipment. One review I'd come across said that, for example, the hoop game could provide a full-body workout in six minutes. Hot diggety! I'll just go buy Wii Fit and go for more serious exercise.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was the "Hunt for the Wii" process all over again. Nobody had it. I tried an two-hour round trip to Appleton to check all the possible stores. Nothing. Asked at service desks for estimated arrival dates. It was first come, first served again (with at least one service-desk staffer expressing considerable hostility -- not for me, but for Nintendo). I alerted my buddies to keep an eye out for it. I set up a schedule of telephone calls with possible venues. (When does the store open? When does it unload the truck?) The Best Buy recorded telephone pick-up seemed a little crabby, as it said something along the lines of, "If you're calling about the Wii Fit, none is available right now."

So you can doubly imagine my surprise when a not-quite-casual jaunt through the Target store in Stevens Point (where I'd wound up in advance of a dinner meeting with friends) found -- with no fanfare, no store announcements, no crush of multitudes -- a Wii Fit, not where I'd logically checked with the other Wii software, but sitting happily on an endcap beside five or six other Wii Fit boxes.

Whew! The exercise is over!

(What do you mean that wasn't the exercise?)



Thursday, June 12, 2008

I don't know whether you've ever come across Paul Gallico's Thomasina. Subtitled "The Cat Who Thought She Was God," the novel was originally published in 1957. The writer (1897-1976) had several of his works adapted to film; these included The Poseidon Adventure and Love of Seven Dolls (filmed as Lili). As noted, among the film adaptations of his writing is the Disney 1964 film The Three Lives of Thomasina.

That film starred Patrick McGoohan as the vet father of a little girl (played by Karen Dotrice) who loves her cat Thomasina, who narrates the film -- and dies, only to return to life to be with the little girl. It's a children's film and it features a cat (well, actually, a bunch of male cats, each playing Thomasina and each clearly distinctive to the adult cat-lover's eye, but never mind) -- so it was a natural for 5-year-old grandson Devon (who first saw it when he was 4).

Switch the scene now to Devon's household a couple of weeks ago. Beloved kitty Dactyl was in such an advanced stage of cancer that it was time to say goodbye. Devon was told this, though he didn't seem to grasp the details (which was probably just as well), and -- after much family cuddling -- Zander had the sad job of taking Dactyl to the vet.

It was then decided that the family desperately needed cheering distractions, so Valerie, Zander, and Devon went to the Quassy Amusement Park (on Lake Quassapaug in Connecticut , founded in 1908, one of only 11 "trolley parks" still operating in this country). They had a lovely time and then headed to the multi-lane highway for the long ride home. They were driving in the outside lane, when both Valerie and Zander simultaneously (and incredibly) spotted a tiny, road-colored lump by the side of the road. "Isn't that --?"

Zander (carefully) pulled over and (carefully) got out and ran back to the lump, then carried it back to the car. Valerie, who had had no reason to bring along a cashmere sweater on a hot day, took the tiny lump and wrapped it in the seemingly useless sweater. And Devon, from the back seat, asked, "Is that my Thomasina?"

And, yes, it was. Clearly, someone had decided it'd be (shudder) merciful to throw a six-week kitten out by the side of a major highway (with a Jersey Barrier in the middle, so nothing could ever cross it safely). The fist-sized kitten was covered with ticks but otherwise OK, and all arrived home safe and sound, albeit with ensuing tick-picking ahead.

Kitten has now seen the vet, and it is clearly established that (again, as was the case in the Disney film) Thomasina is a boy kitty. And a wonderful addition to the household.


46 years ago

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I don't know whether this photo was taken exactly 46 years ago -- but here are the circumstances:

Don and I had been engaged for a year and a half. It was the end of my sophomore year at Oberlin College, and Don had taken the bus to Oberlin each weekend for the entirety of my Oberlin stay. (I'd even managed to stay in Oberlin between my freshman and sophomore year with the excuse of taking typing at the little business college that was also in Oberlin.)

I was staying in the Fairchild dormitory, where I'd met Ron Hardin, who was a junior, played the lute, snapped a mean camera shutter, and ate at the same dining-room table as I did. Ron occasionally hung out with Don and me -- and, as something of an end-of-year gift, took several photos of Don and me clowning in front of Fairchild within the month before we were married.

So here we were, as of June 1962. Hee!


51 years ago

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It was on June 8, 1957, that Mom (science-fiction writer Betsy Curtis) drove to a science-fiction picnic at the home of Basil and Virginia Wells. She'd thought the event would be held at the home of Ed Hamilton and Leigh Brackett in Kinsman, Ohio, so we arrived there -- only to be told (by Leigh's parents in the farm across the road) that it was at the Wells home.

Undeterred, we ended up at a delightful event, attended by a number of SF professionals and fans. Among pro attendees were P. Schuyler Miller, the Hamiltons, and Andre Norton. Among the fans was a Penn State sophomore who'd heard about it through the National Fantasy Fan Federation.

The college student had hitchhiked there from his home in Grand Valley, Pennsylvania -- and we happened to reside in a house that was on the route back to Grand Valley, so we were glad to take him as far as our place on his way home. But that's not why we hit it off: What happened was that we spent most of the day discovering almost identical fannish interests, ranging from Old Time Radio (which wasn't Old Time at that point) to Western movies to fantasy to science fiction to mysteries to, yes, comics.

The next time I heard from him came when Harvey Kurtzman's Humbug #1 (Aug 57) was released; Don Thompson folded it in two and sent it to me in a #10 envelope with a note telling me of its publication.

It wasn't until some time later that he sent me this photo:

On the back, he had typed this message:

This picture was taken before I became a science fiction fan. Anyone gazing at my ravaged features today will see only too clearly the detrimental effects of this insidious activity.

Don't let this happen to your child! Join the Crusade to Stamp out Bug-Eyed Monsters. See your neighborhood chapter of the Society For the Prevention of Science Fiction Books and Magazines.

Support the SFPSFBM. Cash contributions are welcomed. Send your donation to:

Ray Palmer
Amherst, Wisconsin

It is difficult to believe that this innocent, wide-eyed child is today, not only a science fiction fan, but a radio announcer.

(Annotation for the history-minded: Don worked on the Penn State radio station WDFM.)

(Further annotation: Who'd have thought that, 25 years later, Don and Maggie Thompson would move less than 20 miles away from the home of SF and flying saucer editor Ray Palmer? It was, clearly Fate -- another in-joke. Sorry.)


Wii Whee!

Friday, June 6, 2008

While an annoying combination of Things That Happen have kept me from this blog for days and days and days, it's a Personal Triumph that returns me to it.

I decided that Wednesday would be the beginning of investigations that will eventually lead to a revamped home-entertainment environment. The whole digital-to-analog broadcast-television thing coming up in February has goaded me to visiting TV set replacement and the like. So I eyeballed (almost literally: I put my eye about two inches away from an assortment of LCD screens to look at details) sets, read descriptions of what different TVs had to offer, stood at varying distances from displays to decide what would be "too big," and so on.

At the same time, I decided to begin the process of trying to purchase something I'd mulled buying for months: a Nintendo Wii. I don't play most games. Life is short enough without activities that leave you where you began. But a few games provide a bonus that makes worthwhile the time you've invested. I've found Out of the Box's Apples to Apples and Cineplexity are not only fun but also enriching. (The former consists of thought-provoking non-embarrassing social interaction with friends; the latter has led to movie recommendations for films I hadn't encountered. But I digress.)

But, as is widely known, You Can't Find a Wii. So I went online to see what eBay prices looked like. And I Googled online vendors to do the same. Best price seemed to be about $375. Ouch. But, hey, my goal is to find something that makes it, if not pleasant, at least bearable to exercise. If I'm going to have a fancy environment for passive entertainment, how much better if it gets me off my duff from time to time? So I asked at the Appleton Best Buy (after deciding that a 40-42-inch LCD was probably what my goal TV should be) how one went about finding a Wii there. Can I put my name on a waiting list? How does it work?

"We advertise the console and say there are limited quantities available." Oh. So I need to watch the ads and it's first come first served? Yep.

So yesterday I asked The Invaluable Brent (who pays attention to Best Buy ads) to let me know the next time he saw a Wii advertised. Having decided to buy one, I figured I would simply make a concerted effort to acquire it. Brent said, "When I was at the Best Buy in Plover last night, there were a bunch of them on a table at the front of the store." The console? Not a bunch of add-ons? No way? Way. When did you see them? Last night. What time does the store open this morning? 10 a.m. -- and it was just after 9.

Surely, there'll be none left after a day on sale, but what the heck. (Brent, as we talked, made a list of area information of other possibilities, in case this didn't pan out.) Hopped in car, drove to Plover, found about a dozen consoles sitting on a table at the front of the store, grabbed one (limit was one per family, by the way), headed to the Other Wii Things to Buy display, chatted with a friendly Best Buy clerk about what good additions would be (second remote controller), threw stuff in the cart, and made for the checkout with a smile. Price was list for the item: $249.

I returned to the office to spread the word to an assortment of buddies -- and the reaction was interesting, ranging from several people who'd acquired consoles already, several people who didn't care, one person (John Jackson Miller, creator of this very website) who expressed revulsion at the idea of playing indoors when one should be active outdoors, and one person who immediately grabbed the phone to give the news to a relative who'd been looking for a console for months.

Mind you, it's now almost 24 hours later, and I still haven't opened the box. But, in the meantime, I've got two extra discs: Hudson's Deca Sports (wow, curling! woo hoo!), which seems to have enough variety of movement that I'll find something entertaining enough to stick with (remembering that the goal is exercise), and Electronic Arts' The Simpsons Game because, well, because. Hey, Maggie, life is short enough without activities that leave you where you began. D'oh!


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