September 26th, 2008

Good Omens

Morning miscellany

* It's morning. That much we can be sure of.

* First things first: to a lot of my friends, for whom right now things SUCK: I'm thinking of you. Non-sucky stuff can start happening right now, please and thank you...

* My first impression of the new Killers single "Human": pretty tune, pretty odd lyrics. (I don't yet know what "Are we human, or are we denser" means; people already think Brandon Flowers's saying dancer.) I didn't think their last single "Don't Shoot Me Santa" (really) was a successful lyric, either. (Later: It was "dancer." At least Brandon says it makes sense to him...)

They need to write at least one song with Jim Steinman. I mean, Sam's Town was approaching Meat-Loaf-concept-album in style, and I am not saying that as a complaint...

* I may let myself watch this season of Survivor. I haven't watched a full season since Season 2 (Australia), but the dysfunctional-working-to-get-functional dynamic of the Fang (pronounced "fahng") tribe might be intriguing: they're trying to pull together after Jeff Probst pointed out how fractious they'd become.

(I also might be developing a thing for Crystal, the Olympic runner who hasn't yet told her fellow contestants that she's an Olympian. Hey, I have a cousin who's an Olympian: they're not always obvious!)

Randy (Fang's old sour guy) reminds me of Vince McMahon.

And is Sugar going to titter after everything she says? O.o

* slipjig made a good suggestion on the phone last night: a Bond film should have a song by Portishead. "They've been doing Bond songs," he said, meaning their style is very Bond-ian. "Bond songs have to be torchy, and not many people can do that." (This spun off my sounding off on Bond songs.)

* Do I have enough for a miscellany? I'll say I do.
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Scorpio

Whoa.

Rick Emerson just began his show by playing the scene from West Wing's "Two Cathedrals." President Bartlet's argument with God.

Whoa.

Seven years on, that still gets me.

You're a son of a bitch, you know that? She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What, was that supposed to be funny? "You can't conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God," says Graham Greene. I don't know who's ass he was kissing there 'cause I think you're just vindictive. What was Josh Lyman? A warning shot? That was my son. What did I ever do to yours but praise his glory and praise his name? There's a tropical storm that's gaining speed and power. They say we haven't had a storm this bad since you took out that tender ship of mine in the north Atlantic last year... 68 crew. You know what a tender ship does? Fixes the other ships. Doesn't even carry guns. Just goes around, fixes the other ships and delivers that mail. That's all it can do. Gratias tibi ago, domine. Yes, I lied. It was a sin. I've committed many sins. Have I displeased you, you feckless thug? 3.8 million new jobs, that wasn't good? Bailed out Mexico, increased foreign trade, 30 million new acres of land for conservation, put Mendoza on the bench, we're not fighting a war, I've raised three children... That's not enough to buy me out of the doghouse? Haec credam a deo pio? A deo iusto? A deo scito? Cruciatus in crucem! Tuus in terra servus nuntius fui officium perfeci. Cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem! You get Hoynes.
Whale fluke

When Harlan Ellison met William Goldman

The work of William Goldman came up on the Harlan Ellison Dot Com main message board. Harlan had something to add:
HARLAN ELLISON
- Friday, September 26 2008 15:39:36


...[after addressing another comment by reader Robert Ross:] That said, Robert, responding otherwhichway to your post:

I've been a William Goldman buff since the lovely Temple of Gold, read concurrently with Catcher In The Rye and I Am Owen Harrison Harding by the recently-deceased James Whitfield Ellison (no relation but, because of our shared monicker, two guys who sought each other out and became 3,000-miles-apart pals). Notably absent from your bookshelf list, was Goldman's longest novel--and I think certainly one of his best--Boys and Girls Together. I mention it because it contains the most powerful, however brilliantly brief, death scene I have ever read. It stands alone and unchallenged, even this many decades later, for its simple power...and the chops to send me into tears every time I go back and re-read it...a moment in the novel I will explicate no further, eschewing "spoiler alerts," save to say it is the moment in the old-time grocery store with the protagonist's grandfather.

As to Goldman himself, well, he has few peers as a scenarist. And yet, as Magic and even Marathon Man attest, he can do up a flawed crip of a script as easily as the rest of us, I guess.

But, just as a sidebar: Susan and I had dinner with Mr. Goldman one night, in Manhattan. Not that many years ago, less than ten, I think. Through the good offices of my friend Peter David, who had purchased at some sort of charity auction (if I'm recalling accurately), "dinner for four" with Wm. Goldman.

It was a pleasant enough evening, commencing in Goldman's huge and pretty much incredible Upper East Side mansion-apartment.

He seemed patrician and reserved, but gracious and urbane. It was by no means a rolled-up-sleeves 3-pro writers schmoozing interlude, and though he knew my name and a few of my credits, we were on one side of the social landscape, and Mr. Goldman, however unintentionally, was on the other. I mean none of the foregoing as opprobrium: he was a stalwart host. And it didn't diminish by even a minim my admiration for his writing.

Yet in nostalgic recall, I cannot say other than that it was a nice evening with a nice man. The Goldman of Princess Bride was not there; the Louis Auchincloss or John Updike of the W.A.S.P. world was. Not bad, but not what I was hoping for.

I have no idea what all of the preceding means, Robert. I just wanted to make some polite conversation with you.

Yr. Pal, Harlan
Reminds me: I need and want to read more of William Goldman's novels. I don't think I've read any of his Sixties' work, which is among the stuff Harlan referenced; I've read The Princess Bride, Marathon Man, its truly cracked-out sequel Brothers (but with a scene of a character inadvertantly saying exactly the right thing to finally make his fiancee comfortable with something; it's a moment I'm fond of), and his Hollywood non-fiction books Adventures in the Screen Trade and Which Lie Did I Tell?

P.S. By the way, William Goldman is alive and well, but I keep looking back at this and it feels like I'm saying something different. I don't mean to. There. Disclaimer disclaimed.