Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Martian Chronicler.

Today is the 90th birthday of Ray Douglas Bradbury!!!

I can not think of an event more worthy of dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlors. Pick up a Bradbury book and spend some glorious hours drinking in the Dandelion Wine of his words in his honor.

Or catch one of his movies. I have the film of Something Wicked This Way Comes running on my TV at this moment. It makes a great double-feature with George Pal's 7 Faces Of Dr. Lao. Both tell of magic carnivals coming to small towns to change the lives of their residents, one for the good, the other for the very, very bad. and Royal Dano, the voice of Disney's robot Lincoln, is in both.

Without Ray, no one would ever have heard of Mars!

These are two of Little Dougie's most-prized possessions. Ray's middle name is "Douglas." He named the protagonist of Dandelion Wine "Douglas" after himself, and told Dougie that book was special, just for Douglases. However, Little Dougie has stated that The Royal Order of Guys Named Douglas will graciously allow all to share our joy, and read Dandelion Wine..

Ray Bradbury, 90 years great as of today, is often called a "science fiction writer." I'm going to go out on a limb here and say - hold on - Ray Bradbury is not a science fiction writer. Look at these books. Are any of them even remotely science fiction? Nope. Ray is a fantasy writer, who often employs science fiction tropes for some of his his flights of fantasy. (Damn! There goes my vow never to use the word "tropes".)

Wait! One of these books isn't even fiction. It's essays. And two of those are mysteries.

You know what Ray is? A writer. Period. One of the best. And a National Treasure. No. Strike that. He's a World Treasure!

"Every man, they said, must face reality. Must face the Here and Now. Everything that was not so must go. All the beautiful literary lies and flights of fancy must be shot in mid-air. So they lined them up against a library wall one Sunday morning thirty years ago, in 1975; they lined them up, St. Nicholas and the Headless Horseman and Snow White and Rumplestiltskin and Mother Goose - oh, what a wailing! - and shot them down, and burned the paper castles and the fairy frogs and the old kings and the people who lived happily ever after (for of course it was a fact that nobody lived happily ever after!), and Once Upon a Time became No More! And they spread the ashes of the Phantom Rickshaw with the rubble of the Land of Oz; they filleted the bones of Glinda the Good and Ozma and shattered Polychrome in a spectroscope and served Jack Pumpkinhead with meringue at the Biologist's Ball! The Beanstalk died in a bramble of red tape! Sleeping Beauty awoke at the kiss of a scientist and expired at the fatal puncture of his syringe. And they made Alice drink something from a bottle which reduced her to a size where she could no longer cry 'curiouser and curioser,' and they gave the Looking-Glass one hammer blow to smash it and every Red King and Oyster away."

- from The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.

Little Dougie told me: "I think it was reading that specific paragraph, when I was 8 years old, that first showed me how a writer could get drunk on the music of his own words. Notice how the deliberate omission of commas makes the raging tide of images flood forth like a Tsunami, as though they poured out too fast to bother with punctuation."

On the accompanying book cover, I have no idea why the face of renowned character actor Henry Daniell is peering out at us from Mars.

Ray Bradbury was the first professional writer Little Dougie ever met, and he found him more glamorous than any mere movie star. Actors interpret, but writers create.

‎"First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren't rare. But there must be bad and good, as the pirates say. Take September, a bad month: school begins. Consider August, a good month: school hasn't begun yet. July, well, July's really fine: there's no chance in the world for school. June, no doubting it, June's best of all, for the school doors spring wide and September's a billion years away.

But you take October now. School's been on a month and you're riding easier in the reins, jogging along. You got time to think of the garbage you'll dump on old man Prickett's porch, or the hairy ape costume you'll wear to the YMCA the last night of the month. And if it's around October twentieth and everything smokey-smelling and the sky orange and ash-gray at twilight, it seems Halloween will never come in a fall of broomsticks and a soft flap of bedsheets around corners.

But one strange wild dark long year, Halloween came early."

From Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

How ridiculously cool is this photo? Ray Bradbury and Malcolm McDowell. Alex the Droog meets The Illustrated Man. A Clockwork Orange meets Fahrenheit 451.

Here's a wonderful caricature of Ray Bradbury and his best friend, Ray Harryhausen, impersonating my boys, Laurel & Hardy. Harryhausen turned 90 two months ago. Let's hope these wonderful men live another 90 years.

Cheers darlings.

Oh, and I'm still plugging along, churning out
Big Brother reaps for The Huffington Post. Here's my most recent: "The Boobiac Strikes Back!"