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Author Topic:   Ray Bradbury Sacrilege
From Greentown Illinois
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posted 03-17-2004 08:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for From Greentown Illinois   Click Here to Email From Greentown Illinois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Trying to get the whole baby thing back to a Ray Bradbury relaed discussion here and in one last bit of advice for Sam Weller I am going to do something I never dreamed I would do for as faithful a disciple I have been of Ray Bradbury's work. I am going to commit a sin and recommend not reading a Ray Bradbury story.

Do not, under any circumstances, read "The Small Assasin" while your wife is pregnant (or if you are a pregnant woman) or if you have a new baby.

Can anyone else thing of any extreme circumstances where you might make a similar recommendation. It could be a fun challenging game.

I feel all dirty.

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Sam Weller
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posted 03-17-2004 09:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sam Weller   Click Here to Email Sam Weller     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Greentown:

No need to feel all sullied. I agree with you completely. Beyond mere superstition, reading "the Small Assassin" to my wife would be utterly inapprorpriate. Even Ray would agree with this. I've stayed away from the story in the last six and a half months.

One interesting sidenote however. My own father read from "The Illustrated Man" to my mom while she was carrying me. I'm sure "The Veldt" damaged me in unthinkable ways, but I must have been listening in there. I'm two months away from completing my book on Ray Bradbury's life -- something I've been working on since birth!

Thanks for all the advice! I will make sure to be as supportive as possible in the delivery room.

Sam

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fjpalumbo
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posted 03-17-2004 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fjpalumbo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another to avoid:
(Especially now that dads in the delivery room are the norm) - Tomorrow's Child.

I had just reread it several days before the wonderful arrival was announced, FGI ~ Yahoo!
And I was thinking the same thing about this story as you have now mentioned about S. A.
*Definitely on the "DON'T List" for pre-natal care.

Sam - It is a true miracle to behold. You'll do great. (I cut the umbilical cord for both of my boys.) If a "birthing room" is an option, that is the way to go - vs. an institutional delivery facility. If nothing else ever impresses me again, I will always have these two life changing experiences to cherish.

[This message has been edited by fjpalumbo (edited 03-17-2004).]

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Mr. Dark
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posted 03-17-2004 03:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr. Dark   Click Here to Email Mr. Dark     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm definitely looking forward to the fuition of Sam's biography. I'm nearly drooling!

On Tomorrow's Child . . . I loved it! What I find fascinating is that the parents in that story learn to love the child even though it's in a completely different dimension. A real tribute to the parenting instinct. It's like Keillor's (sp?) claim that "every kid is above average". Parents (in mormative terms) see their own children as precious and beautiful. The neat thing about Tomorrow Child is that, although the child is actually in another dimension, and is a blue pyramid (if I remember correctly), the parents learn to love it like there was nothing "wrong".

I see it as a story about love.

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philnic
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posted 03-17-2004 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for philnic   Click Here to Email philnic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Back to FromGreentown's challenge: all I can think of is... DON'T read "The Scythe" when your lawn needs mowing.

- Phil

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dandelion
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posted 03-17-2004 06:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So, Sam, let me get this straight...you have both a new book AND a new baby on the way shortly? Hearty congratulations are in order!

Ray said that "what will the pregnant women of America think?" was one grounds of objection to printing "The Small Assassin." After it was published anyway, he heard from the pregnant women of America. "They were most unhappy." It had no effect on the population, as it appeared the year before the Baby Boom officially started, a time (1946-1964) during which all of Ray's four daughters, and, yes, a lot of his readers, were born! (Does anyone remember which story Ray wrote after his first new baby awoke from what he termed a nightmare--obviously not "The Small Assassin.")

My sisters and I were late baby boomers. Dad wasn't there when I was born. His excuse was that he was at work. He wasn't at work when my sisters were born, but I guess they either didn't let fathers in the delivery room then or he chose not to. Mom did have quite an audience as many of the staff had never seen twins born and were anxious to witness such a miracle.

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From Greentown Illinois
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posted 03-17-2004 09:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for From Greentown Illinois   Click Here to Email From Greentown Illinois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dandelion, not sure about that story. He mentions the incident about Susan awakening from the nightmare during an interview about "The Small Assasin" on the Dark Carnival CD but he doesn't mention any other story.

As for the rest of you - now you've done it! I haven't read "Tomorrow's Child" and now I, being human, must give in to curiosity. I'll fill you all in on how it makes me feel.
Sincerely,
Pandora

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jfaronson
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posted 03-17-2004 10:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jfaronson   Click Here to Email jfaronson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pandora:

Don't do it! What will you let out?

RE: "The Small Assassin."

I first read that story when I was 12 and just starting to babysit. It scared the s*** out of me. That was 23 years ago and it still freaks me out.

Is "Tomorrow's Children" the one about the shapes? (I'm trying to ask in a subtle way, so I don't spoil the story, especially if I'm wrong!)

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Mr. Dark
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posted 03-18-2004 01:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr. Dark   Click Here to Email Mr. Dark     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes.

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dandelion
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posted 03-18-2004 01:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, alternate title "The Shape of Things."

No sacrilege, but a confession. OKAY! I confess to liking "The Twilight Zone" better than "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," even though Ray did several Hitchcocks and only one TZ due largely to what seems to have been a severe aversion to, if not actually a violent dislike of, Rod Serling.

YES! I CONFESS! I CONFESS! I like Rod Serling and I LOVE "The Twilight Zone"! I hang out at the Fifth Dimension website, which is as good as being in a Fan Club! THERE! I SAID IT! AND I WON'T TAKE IT BACK! I only wish there was a way to have my cake and eat it too, that is, like Ray Bradbury AND "The Twilight Zone" and not feel so darn guilty about it. But I guess all of life is just a tradeoff and life is full of compromises.

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From Greentown Illinois
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posted 03-18-2004 02:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for From Greentown Illinois   Click Here to Email From Greentown Illinois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dandelion,
Relax. It's okay to like two different things even if they conflict with one another. I Love The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling, I have a couple of biographies on him (one is pretty so-so but the other is really good) - there's nothing better. I Love Ray Bradbury and his works - theres nothing better. There's nothing ot feel bad about. What's that website address?

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dandelion
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posted 03-18-2004 09:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Check out both of these sites: http://www.thetzsite.com and http://www.rodserling.com/

The first one has a message board which I visit religiously. (Okay, I'm there as often as I am here--two, three times a day.) The site used to be better before a certain network whose name I won't say but whose initials are Creeps, Bums, and Screwups screwed it up, but it is still pretty good. The second one has information and some really adorable pictures of Rod, who was truly (and rather inexplicably) gorgeous, considering the rest of his family were only just presentable. Check out him and his parents and brother and see if you agree.

I think I have those same two biographies. Okay, I think they are the ONLY two biographies of Serling--other books out there are more about "The Twilight Zone." I don't know what the point was of that second book. Why do anything at all unless it can be done differently or better, when the first book was done so well and the second book didn't add or improve much?

I was looking at the first book again after talking to Ray (to whom I have yet to dare to mention a Certain Person's name--he must have really hated him if he can still feel resentment all these years later!) One way I can tell I really love Rod is I admire him despite his many flaws and weaknesses, just as I love Ray despite his many perfections and strengths! But I can identify with Rod in ways I can't with Ray.

For instance: Ray says he has not experienced ANY self-doubt, EVER. He's known he was right and everyone else was wrong since the age of nine, which occurred before the Great Depression, which was a long, LONG time ago! He's never needed any outside assurance, which, in an indirect way, was sort of what he was yelling at me about--thinking of showing a work in progress to anyone.

Rod had the opposite problem. He was almost nothing BUT self-doubt, in need of constant assurance. One friend said it ate at Rod so he saw him CRY about it--despite the fact that Rod was a VERY macho, non-crying sort of guy! Rod also never had the problem of showing anyone a work in progress, but mainly because he never gave himself the TIME to finish anything such as a novel--despite talking about writing novels and saying he wanted to! He turned out mostly scripts and other pieces which could be finished very quickly, which he cranked out at a speed nothing short of frightening!

Well, I'm in between these extremes, having seldom achieved the state of "happy creativity" in which Ray dwells (though I think a lot of that came about AFTER his work started achieving success), but not just tormented over it the way Rod was. (Which is good--I can give myself permission to take the TIME to write a novel--which Rod couldn't seem to do--though I might add his brother wrote a couple of successful lengthy works.) I see now I have to work on being able to concentrate on the conviction of what I'm doing and not on assurance from other people. They have BOTH helped me see this very difficult reality!

I can't help feeling as I do about Rod and his work. "Night Gallery" was my favorite show at the time it was on. I was exposed to some of Ray's work at the same age, but I had a clear picture of who Rod was a good three years before I had any concept of Ray! So Rod has "seniority" in that respect. Thing is, ever since I found out about the animosity (twenty years now) I can't stray into Rod territory without feeling I am "cheating" on Ray! At the same time, I feel guilty of disloyalty to Rod for hesitating liking him for reasons which are not my own--if that makes sense. *Sigh.* It's all like some bizarre kinda test. The best phrase I've found for it is "cognitive dissonance."

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philnic
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posted 03-18-2004 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for philnic   Click Here to Email philnic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
dandelion,

What's not to like about The Twilight Zone? OK, a few turkeys, but some episodes that are almost more Bradbury than Bradbury! "Walking Distance", for instance.

I used to visit thetzsite.com, but then it disappeared. I was surprised to see it return. What was it that upset CBS? Script material reproduced on the site?

Anyone who wished to enjoy thetzsite as it was (thereby laughing at CBS), simply set your browser to the Internet Time Machine:
www.archive.org

Type the URL of tzsite into the "Wayback Machine", and you can travel back in time.

Try it! Everyone, try it! Try it with other URLs. It's cooler than a Toynbee Convector and a Happiness Machine rolled into one!

- Phil

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From Greentown Illinois
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posted 03-18-2004 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for From Greentown Illinois   Click Here to Email From Greentown Illinois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It occured to me that astronauts, cosmonauts, etc. might not want to be reading "Kaliedoscope," or - dang! which story is the one about the wife and kid who never go out in the day because dad's ship fell into the sun? Is it "The Rocketman?"

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Mr. Dark
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posted 03-18-2004 12:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr. Dark   Click Here to Email Mr. Dark     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yep. The Rocket Man.

A lot of pathos built into that story. Interestingly, one of the strongest passages I remember was his digging his hands on the dirt in the garden while home. And then his inability to be fully happy in space (because he missed home) or at home (because he missed space).

A great example of how Bradbury focuses on the human side of the "science fiction/fantasy" genre.

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fjpalumbo
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posted 03-18-2004 03:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fjpalumbo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another thorough TZ site: http://tzone.the-croc.com/

All time favorites (a few):
Where is Everybody? -To Serve Man -Eye of the Beholder -Will the Real Martian Please Stand up -Time Enough At Last -Living Doll -Kick the Can -Terror at 20000' -Monsters on Maple Street -What You Need -The Lonely -Escape Clause

As a kid I never missed an episode just before going to bed....

What was the title of the TZ where astronauts had landed in the desert of some barren planet (much like we are witnessing in the pics from the Rovers)? They decide to venture off in separate directions seeking anything that may assure them of survival. By the end of the story, they are all ready to give it up. When they reconnoiter, one crewman returns crawling back (near death, unable to speak from thirst and exhaustion). Just before dying, he frantically draws a diagram in the sand of huge alien beings with outreaching arms.

The last crewmen interpret his delirious behavior as a warning of what await just over the next dune. They depart in haste in the opposite direction, back into the vast expanse of the unmerciful desert.

As the camera pans up and away (in that classic last twist of irony that made TZ what it was), you witness the men walking to what will obviously be their doom. You also get a panoramic view of the region.

Over the next dune? The meaning of the designs?

Powerlines and a highway. They had landed back on earth in the middle of a desert.

I have many TZ video and s.s. collections, but this one eludes me!?


[This message has been edited by fjpalumbo (edited 03-18-2004).]

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philnic
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posted 03-18-2004 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for philnic   Click Here to Email philnic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've skimmed through Marc Scott Zicree's "Twilight Zone Companion", and can't find the episode described. Maybe it wasn't a TZ after all.

I've just thought of another episode of TZ that is rather Bradbury: "Nothing in the Dark" by George Clayton Johnson. Old lady is visited by death (embodied by Robert Redford).

This is a story Ray has told more than once. Except, I think whenever Ray tells it, the old lady survives - and death goes away with a flea in its ear. Live forever!

When Johnson tackles the story, death isn't such a bad thing after all, and the old lady goes off with him, arm in arm.

- Phil

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dandelion
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posted 03-18-2004 05:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the link, Phil. Is the old message board by any chance there with the messages still on it? It was the sixth incarnation of the board, and we'd worked it up to a marvelous point when ZAP. Everyone please also check out http://www.tzworld.com/ Eric's site, which provided a very nice haven for us while we were without Matt's site. Matt was cautious and overcautious in returning, removing not only the articles (the initial source of problems) and scripts but even pictures. I think there is an episode guide, but considerably less detailed than the former.

The story you described sounds the most like "I Shot an Arrow into the Air," an episode I haven't seen, but from descriptions I think they come to an even worse end in that. Yours does sound like a TZ though.

Donn Albright named the number of TZ episodes Ray had problems with as four. Two were the pilot, "Where is Everybody?" and "Walking Distance," and another may have been "A Stop at Willoughby," the other in which a Bradbury name is mentioned. I know Serling and Bradbury hashed over the first two and resolved their differences regarding them, but I have never been able to learn the identity of the fourth episode which clinched it all--all I know is some sort of final break occurred sometime between the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 and September of that year, so I guess I should pay especially close attention to episodes from the end of 1961-beginning of 1962 season.

Every time I see an episode with REAL resemblances to an ACTUAL Bradbury story, it turns out to be by someone else. Even the ones most "reminiscent" of Bradbury are usually by friends and acquaintances of his, not by Serling. "Nothing in the Dark" is by far the MOST Bradbury Zone I've seen, with similarities to "There Was an Old Woman" (a phrase even used in the closing narrative) and a close resemblance to "Death and the Maiden," but again, not by Serling, and Bradbury never had a problem with Johnson. (I know--if he remained friends with people who WORKED on the series, why should I worry about just WATCHING the series, so why DO I?)

Obviously writing is a very solitary experience and Ray is self-contained enough that he can take or leave being around people. Rod was not--he NEEDED attention, which he would take in positive or negative ways--he was almost a split personality and the more I read about Rod and about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, well, I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on TV, but I got this little voice saying classic case...classic case! Rod, by the way, was an EXTREMELY different personality even from his own brother--he was like from a different planet in some ways! I just see Rod as being tragically flawed to the point that it killed him. Excessive stress, externalized by chain-smoking, finished him off at age 50. You can work up frustration over this but I don't see actual hatred. (And it doesn't seem to be the sort of anger as in the time travel story in "One More for the Road" about the gifted young writer wasting his talent, though some of that does emerge from Serling's biographer.)

I am POSITIVE there were personality conflicts, serious and insurmountable (and the more I read about both, the more I'm glad to speculate on just what) and the objections regarding similarities in the work were just an excuse Ray put up. The Serling biography does give one example of a longtime friend breaking off all contact with Serling, which was entirely due to personality and behavior issues. Rod simply did not relate to people in the way that Ray does, and the way he chose to do things did make certain people very angry! I still can't see such issues defining him as a bad person, or really resenting someone for such things years after they're dead!

Rod: Dog Person! Ray: Cat Person!

Live and let live, I say!

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Sam Weller
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posted 03-18-2004 06:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sam Weller   Click Here to Email Sam Weller     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A very fascinating discussion occuring here that deviates from the folder subject, but what the hey. From what I understand, it was the episode that stole from "Death and the Maiden" that was the final straw. Ray was very generous to Rod Serling and he doesn't like to dwell on the negative, so he doesn't generally talk about this. Still....while Sterling cultists will disagree, Serling was a narrative-clepto and Bradbury gave him every chance to come clean and he didn't. Today, Rod Serling is looked at as brilliant scribe of weird tales when, as cool as "The Twilight Zone" was, Serling just ripped a lot of shit off.

Trying to drop in here more often as this place is just darned cool!

[This message has been edited by Sam Weller (edited 03-18-2004).]

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From Greentown Illinois
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posted 03-18-2004 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for From Greentown Illinois   Click Here to Email From Greentown Illinois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Granted, the stuff about Serling. But he did have a great passion and skill for building on ideas and bringing his own soul/demons to them. Let's call him a catalyst without whom we never would have had the Twilight Zone. I've always felt that he ran with a lot of radio writer, Arch Oboler's ideas or - methods. That was his role, that was his path and I don't believe there was any malice involved He just had a lot to say and said it according to his gifts.

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dandelion
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posted 03-19-2004 06:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The better Serling biography gives a great deal of credit to the influence of Norman Corwin, a dramatist famous in radio days who went on to write books. Besides having a brilliant mind, Mr. Corwin is a fine gentleman and very good friend of Ray's.

Sam, the whole TZ plagiarism thing makes little sense and the MORE I learn the LESS sense it makes! The stories which seemed to have most incensed Ray bear the least resemblances to the sources from which they are supposedly taken. I challenge anyone to watch the episodes and read the stories.

"Where is Everybody?" and "Here There Be Tygers." The only resemblances are that both concern American astronauts, space exploration, and psychological issues--as do nearly countless scores of other futuristic stories going back at least as far as Jules Verne!

"Walking Distance" and "The Black Ferris"--which are both set in America, written in English, and relate to childhood and carnival rides. Ray's story had a ferris while Rod's featured a carousel--and Binghamton DOES have a carousel which Rod loved as a kid! Does this mean that no one familiar with such rides, in their own town or elsewhere, should EVER write about them? I guess I should never write about a ship because of "Moby-Dick"? That is setting--not plot--and even as far as plots, only so many are out there. And, most bizarrely, when the novelization, "Something Wicked This Way Comes," came out AFTER the TV show, Ray changed the ferris wheel to a carousel! What was THAT?

"A Stop at Willoughby"--again, I'm quite familiar with Ray's work and if pressed might find some of his stories with some resemblances, but nothing just leaps to mind.

"Nothing in the Dark" is by far the strongest resemblance, but that was written by George Clayton Johnson (or, at least, aired with his name on it)! Again, why did Bradbury get mad at Serling and never say boo to Johnson?

I will continue to watch TZ and probably continue to be puzzled looking for resemblances which may or may not exist. Any episode of the original "Star Trek" involving beaming down to an alien planet resembles "Here There Be Tygers" more than does "Where is Everybody?" One episode in particular (Trekkers help me out here) where the planet materialized the crew's thoughts--which, in Sulu's case, as I remember, actually WAS a tiger--was VERY much like several stories of Ray's--and yet Bradbury professed admiration for Roddenberry and his work! I've seen resemblances between Ray's and other authors' work which he says aren't there. For instance, I asked if he were influenced by Saki and he said no, it was "all John Collier."

Unless I see much more concrete examples I'll continue to believe that personal dislike was Ray's main problem with Rod. Yes, I am aware that Rod was accused of ripping off other writers, some of whom may have had a case, (open to examples if anyone has any) although even then I really believe it was rarely, if ever, deliberate. I am also aware of the Serling worship on the TZ site, and I happen to find it kinda cute--so SUE me! (Oh, and one more thing--Rod genuinely SUFFERED, physically and mentally, with stomach ulcers, personal problems, and so on, later in his rather short life by feeling he still carried a reputation that was "undeserved"--at least at that point--so I HOPE people are happy!)

Lastly, I understand that Serling saved every scrap of correspondence both to and from himself, (complimentary or otherwise!)--most of which went to two different colleges--and that there WAS written correspondence between him and Bradbury regarding this! Have you seen it, and/or know where a person might go about studying it? I am posting this openly on the board to make it clear I'm not trying to sneak around as regards this--I am REALLY genuinely interested in their OWN WORDS on this subject--and the Serling Foundation has been not much help about who I should ask regarding pursuing this.

I'm not just being deliberately defensive here. My mind was open on this subject--way too open, I'm beginning to think--for about twenty years--until I really began to examine the material for myself and embark on the process of forming a whole new opinion--(that is, that certain Bradbury followers may have sold me a pig in a poke regarding Serling)--the more informed an opinion, the better.

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From Greentown Illinois
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posted 03-19-2004 07:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for From Greentown Illinois   Click Here to Email From Greentown Illinois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shore Leave. The episode was called, Shore Leave. Sulu was chased by a Samurai, the tiger was after somebody else. Someone help me please.

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dandelion
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posted 03-19-2004 02:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I dunno, you seem to be doing fine. Now if someone can tell me why I bother, please do.

The thing is, a certain Bradbury expert, who shall remain nameless here, told me a story which I took to mean that Rod had blatantly ripped Ray off on four occasions, either by adapting Ray's stories for TZ without his permission, which were aired before Ray even found out about it, or knowingly letting someone else do so, and that he as good as admitted it to Ray's face, and that it was to Rod's face that Ray broke off their friendship.

Twenty years later I feel like a chump when I find out the stories were written by Rod (or maybe not even by him--the Johnson one seems closest), weren't even all that similar to Ray's, and most if not all of the confrontation seems not to have taken place face-to-face, but indirectly or through correspondence (which I would dearly LOVE to see!)

Based on this story (which I THOUGHT I heard--and am now not sure whether he told it wrong, I heard it wrong, or partly both) I developed an instant, I won't say dislike but sort of suspicion of Rod, whose work I had formerly admired and liked. Now I feel guilty for feeling that way, although to my knowledge and memory I never mentioned it to anyone in all this time. (By the way, I don't feel at ALL guilty about any suspicion of Hitchcock, which reports have it was not an altogether nice person, but Rod really seems to have tried or at least at heart wanted to be a good person, only to be continually frustrated by serious faults caused by a rather overambitious split personality.)

I've described my feeling as "cognitive dissonance"--that is, I want to like them both each in their own ways--though I will always like Ray better. I'm sure Rod suffered terrible conflict over this. It wasn't a Salieri and Mozart type of thing (as presented in the play--again, not real life). Rod TRULY admired Ray and his work and expressed that admiration to the very last--it's there in his final interview as well as other statements--and yet Ray, good and generous as he usually is, seems not to have one good thing to say about Rod, even thirty years after his death! It just really makes me wonder, what went wrong!?! Sam, if you can shed any light on this in your book, please do so and put a lot of us out of our misery! (George Clayton Johnson and William F. Nolan know as many details as anyone, but they either don't know the whole story or have never fully told it.)

Maybe I am not meant to resolve this. Perhaps it's more intriguing as an eternal enigma. But if people are trying to convince me to see Serling as a story-stealing snake based on what little flimsy evidence I've seen so far, I'm not buying, and not apologizing for my opinion!

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dandelion
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posted 03-19-2004 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here again, for Sam's benefit, is an article I posted here before at least once. http://www.rodserling.com/msloan.htm

As a TZ fan once said, Ray Bradbury's story was about a ferris wheel, and the astronaut in "Where is Everybody?" was named Ferris. Call the lawyers!

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Mr. Dark
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posted 03-19-2004 06:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr. Dark   Click Here to Email Mr. Dark     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know the history, but even if there are discrepencies in the story, isn't it possible to appreciate the various gifts each had? Does this have to be categorically resolved? I'm sure Rod Serling is okay with it by now.

There are apparently at least two versions out there -- with only one direct participant alive to discuss it. He's apparently been pretty consistent with his version. I doubt he'll change his mind.

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Sam Weller
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posted 03-19-2004 08:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sam Weller   Click Here to Email Sam Weller     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've had several long converstaions with Ray about the Twilight Zone situation and his relationship with Serling. As a very positive individual, it is something Ray really doesn't like to discuss. The bottom line is that he felt betrayed by Rod. Ray's side, word for word, will be spelled out in my book. I don't want to put it all on here or I would be giving away my fire, as Ray would say!

Dandelion, I haven't seen the TZ episodes you speak of, so I can't comment on the comparisons. I can say that the entire squabble began with the pilot episode. I have also been told by certain nameless Bradbury experts that Serling was sued by several others writers who claimed plagirism. Perhaps Richard (on the board) can run a legal Lexis-Nexis search on this to see if any cases come up? Have you ever looked into this Dandelion? I haven't had the chance. I do know that Serling's letters are at UCLA and at University of Wisc. If anybody lives in those areas and wants to assist, by all means go check them out for all of us. If I get a chance, I'm going to try to drive to Madison, WI in the near future.

Happy Weekend!

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From Greentown Illinois
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posted 03-19-2004 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for From Greentown Illinois   Click Here to Email From Greentown Illinois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe it just boils down to: Great Minds Think Alike. I believe Mr. Bradbury and Mr. Serling both to be great minds cut from the same cloth in the same time period. Like minds also clash. There is also something to be said for how many stories are built around similar themes. Does Dorian Gray (sp?)ring any bells? The Black Ferris/Something Wicked has similar themes. It is this way for every venue of art. Remember George Harrison getting sued for "unconscious plagarism" in the crazy My Sweet Lord thing. Did he really rip off He's So Fine? No. How many times have we heard a story or seen a movie and said, "Oh if I did that I would have done this or that different." or, "Hey! I thought of that years ago." or even, "That gives me an idea." ?

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Richard
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posted 03-19-2004 10:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sam, I did some quick research, and could find no reported case dealing with a suit against Serling alleging plagarism. That does not necessarily mean that such a suit was never filed. Many cases end (via dismissal, decision, settlement and so forth) in the lowest courts and never see the light of day as a reported decision.

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philnic
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posted 03-20-2004 04:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for philnic   Click Here to Email philnic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is turning into quite a fascinating thread. If nothing else, Sam's comments above will make me want to buy his book when it comes out!

I have found one (undetailed) reference to allegations of plagiarism against Serling:

" He not only battled with TV executives, but also with other writers. He was accused of plagiarism. According to Dr. Todd Eklof, it was mainly "other writers struggling to succeed in the area of science fiction, [but] one very loud accuser, more than Serling's equal as a successful sci-fi writer, and his fellow Unitarian, was Ray Bradbury." Dr. Eklof adds, "Serling countered that he had never intentionally stolen another writer's work. Indeed, all the suits against him proved unsuccessful, with the exception of one in 1963 which, on the advice of his lawyer, Serling settled out of court for sixty-five hundred dollars." "

This is taken from an article at http://www.litkicks.com/BeatPages/page.jsp?what=RodSerling&who=Billectric

No reference is given, and I have no idea who Dr Eklof is.

From the article dandelion linked to (which is backed up by Zicree's "Twilight Zone Companion"), we know that on TZ Ray went from being an early insider to being a rejected scriptwriter. I can imagine that seeing Bradbury-like episodes week after week, and yet having his own script rejected, would be enough to instill a little bitterness.

The only place I have found where Ray talks about his experiences directly is in an interview reproduced in full in Steven Aggelis' thesis:
http://etd.lib.fsu.edu/theses/available/etd-11182003-234211/unrestricted/Agge lis_Dissertation.pdf

This is a large document. Probably best to use the "Find" function for the word "Serling".

As for "Nothing in the Dark", which seems to have been the last straw for Bradbury: its writer, George Clayton Johnson, also collaborated on the animated film of Ray's "Icarus Montfolfier Wright". I don't know the precise timing, but this would appear to be around the same time that "Nothing in the Dark" was being produced.

- Phil

[This message has been edited by philnic (edited 03-20-2004).]

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dandelion
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posted 03-20-2004 07:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Phil, thanks for the archive link. The members are really enjoying it.

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dandelion
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posted 03-20-2004 08:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Phil, the book by Joel Engel, the better of the two Serling biographies, page 222, says the three successful TZ lawsuits were "The Parallel," "A Short Drink From a Certain Fountain," and "Sounds and Silences." "In all three cases a judge deemed the plaintiffs' original stories sufficiently similar to warrant damages, but the final products as seen in the series seemed substantially dissimilar." The out-of-court case would make four.

It seems that these judge(s) and the author are taking similarly opposite stands as me and some other people. A lot of times all they have to prove is access, and yet, it's so unfair--I've heard of cases where there was DEFINITE access and SUBSTANTIAL similarities where those in power got away with theft, and other cases (like these) where based on the flimsiest of similarities someone had to pay through the nose!

The same page of the same book tells of a woman named Constance Olmstead who wrote a piece in praise of Serling in "Los Angeles Magazine" in September 1962. Ray didn't exactly say "Let's All Kill Constance," but he went over there and damn near tore the office apart. I don't know if Constance Olmstead is still alive, where she would be now, or whether she'd remember what was said 40 years ago if so. (This is the part in which Engel really implies he saw what Serling wrote to Bradbury--I also know of another person who definitely saw the letter, so it DOES exist. Sam, I do hope you can locate this letter and any possible others!)

The Gordon F. Sander biography is even more interesting on this point, if both the author and the informant have their facts straight. Pages 192-193 say, "I was at a dinner party with Ray Bradbury," writer Marvin Wald recounted. "The Twilight Zone had just started. Bradbury said that all of the science fiction writers in Hollywood were furious because, they said, Serling wasn't a true science fiction writer like they were, and he was stealing all their plots. They were going to boycott the program. Bradbury felt that Rod became world-famous by taking the work of all of these people, in an area that these people had struggled in for so long.... They were jealous because he was not a part of that world."

If this guy has his timing right, which I have no reason to believe he has not, it seems Ray and possibly others had it in for Rod from the very start! They weren't even going to give him a chance to try in "their" field. If he really was stealing their plots it's understandable, but others have said that was not the case. (See an article on the California Sorcerers writing group by the same author as the Martin Sloan article.) George Clayton Johnson's remarks on the situation also appear here, but of course it will be of much greater interest to hear Ray's own viewpoint.

What Ray seems to have said in the link I posted in "Ray Speaks His Mind" (his exact words weren't quoted, but--) is that Rod Serling knew next to nothing about SF in particular or writing in general--he was merely a "television commentator" who went and read a few stories from Ray's basement.

Documented facts support that this is PATENTLY, ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE! Rod was not proficient at all forms of writing, certainly (for instance, long prose), but he had won three Emmy Awards, all for writing, before ever even meeting Ray, two more for the TZ, and at least one more for "Storm in Summer," a television play which also provoked a confrontation with a writer of whom this was the second work of Rod's similar to his. One of the books describes a face-to-face meeting between Rod and the guy at which the other guy was so upset he was shaking. Rod assured him he had not stolen his work, and he said, "God, I hope not." Becoming known as a television commentator happened after his writing career was established and was partly Rod's own fault. His great looks and voice made him a natural for quality programs starting with TZ, but his pathological need for attention caused him to accept offers he maybe shouldn't have including some programs beneath the dignity of someone of his reputation (things from which Ray would have walked off had he even shown up in the first place.) It's this sort of thing I meant by Rod's "split personality."

As for influences, even if Rod had not read a lot of SF and Fantasy, he had enjoyed horror films as a kid. The horror genre is EXACTLY how I was introduced to Ray's work as a kid--through an Alfred Hitchcock anthology, strangely enough as it is to say. I was watching "Night Gallery" before I was reading Ray's work, and it was the horror/macabre aspect which attracted me. I got into the Sci Fi, Fantasy, and other aspects later--much younger than Rod was at this time, it is true, but isn't it good to be attracted to the field, at any stage?

Sam, I am glad you were able to snap Ray out of his selective amnesia, as I call it, and am sure it is. When Zicree did his book, Ray said he didn't remember events all that well after twenty years. This was not strictly true--Ray has claimed to be blessed with "almost total recall from birth" and could have remembered if he wanted to. He just didn't want to.

As for "great minds," yes. I would love to do a parallel pointing out all the similarities and differences between them. It only just STARTS with them being from the same generation, both small-town American boys, both the youngest in the family and the only other child with a substantially older brother, both brought up in established "conventional" religions and then converted to Unitarianism. There are plenty of other similarities as well as some important differences. The most striking, to me, being the self-confidence issue. It's hard for any reasonably middle-of-the-road personality to even IMAGINE having Ray's excessive confidence or Rod's desperate level of insecurity. Not sure why all the bitterness years later except that it was not only a personality issue but one of professional jealousy. Rod was a very slick mover who fit the Hollywood scene despite not wanting to "go Hollywood," where Ray refused to play the industry's games. He should have had a lot more major projects long ago but refused to put up with the bull which often accompanies the business.

My guess would be that Ray was charmed by Rod and liked him at some point--otherwise he would not have felt so seriously betrayed. And, yes, I believe there is a Fifth Dimension in which Rod has found happiness and he and Ray are actually good friends.

Sam, I know what you mean by "giving away your fire." My latest little talk with Ray made a deep impression!

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philnic
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posted 03-20-2004 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for philnic   Click Here to Email philnic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, dandelion, for expanding the detail on the Ray/Rod dispute. I'm going to have to get Engel's book, as well as Sam's. I now understand why you feel so conflicted when watching TZ!

It was interesting to read about the plagiarism suits against TZ. Two of the episodes you mentioned are listed in Zicree as not being part of the TZ syndication package. The lawsuits must be the reason they have been consigned to oblivion.

I am quite saddened to learn of the hostility between Ray and Rod, as for years I have argued that some of those TZs were loving tributes to Bradbury. And, in fact, they are still that, if watched in isolation and in ignorance of all this gory detail.

You are right to remind everyone of Serling's proven success as a writer. Great though some of TZ was, this is nothing compared to the quality and power of his early TV work. "Heavyweight" and "The Comedian" (the one with Mickey Rooney) are among the best pieces of American TV drama I have ever seen.

Meanwhile... does anyone know of how Icarus Monfgolfier Wright came to be turned into a short film? Did Bradbury and Johnson actively collaborate?

- Phil

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Nard Kordell
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posted 03-20-2004 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nard Kordell   Click Here to Email Nard Kordell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
dandelion:

As to Ray professing 'total recall'.... I'll wager what he means is ...
...all things pertinent and necessary building blocks to his identity...presented when he was born, picked-up by him, and efficiently assimilated.

Most of us run thru those early years unbeknownst of many sign posts... only to gradually understand years later that we missed out on a lot, including who we are, because we were young and foolish. But those 'items' that foster brilliancy are there the moment we are born...and even before...a gift... to 'identify' so early on.

The act of remembering those crucial moments, are like the act of kindess that cover a multitude of sins. They cover a vast multitude of situations...under a cover of timeless recall...

[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 03-20-2004).]

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dandelion
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posted 03-20-2004 10:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Absolutely, Phil. I see the reference in
"Walking Distance" as a straight tribute, with none of the ulterior motives assigned by Ray. I see the reference in
"A Stop at Willoughby" as an expression of Rod's frustration with the situation, and it pains me to see both of them and know the problem was never resolved during Rod's life, nor, seemingly, forgiven after his death. It seemed Ray assigned these bad motives to Rod and then saw everything connected to him through that filter.

Which leads me to another observation regarding the biographies. Engel's is extremely sympathetic to Rod's wife, Carol Serling. The other biographer, Sanders, mentioned having met her several times early on in his work and not getting along. His portrayal is extremely unsympathetic of Carol. Engel presents ways in which Rod wronged Carol as being results of his own struggles with powerful and conflicted personality traits (read these books and look up NPD sometime) and not her fault, while Sanders as good as states she brought the problems on herself by her own attitude--a viewpoint based, it seems to me, on his own negative perceptions. Just an example of how a bad experience with someone can color one's perceptions.

One of the saddest aspects of the whole thing is how discontented Rod was--not just to rest on his laurels, but even to acknowledge his earlier praise was deserved. Extremely strange and sad that someone so gifted should be so insecure, but not "proof" that his gift was borrowed or stolen.

The episodes in question were restored for the current Sci Fi Channel syndication. "The Parallel" is WONDERFUL, "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain" is good, "Sounds and Silences" was no loss at all--universally acknowledged as among the worst of the Zones. About the only one as far as I know that is not run is "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," which I have not seen since my school days many years ago.

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Green Shadow
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posted 03-21-2004 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Green Shadow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dandelion,
I bought a cheap copy of Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge a number of years ago at a discount store. This TZ piece is masterful and TV at its dramatic and artistic best. You should try and locate a copy and watch it again.

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From Greentown Illinois
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posted 03-21-2004 09:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for From Greentown Illinois   Click Here to Email From Greentown Illinois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Owl Creek is available for purchase and rent on DVD and video on the current collections. Good stuff with a special intro by Serling and the last episode run if memory serves.
I am often saddened by Serling's being so insecure and disquieted but he was so encouraging, supportive and complimentary to others. A bio I have on Clara Bow prints a really sweet response to a letter she had written him in which she expressed insecurities about herself. He is definitele as enigmatic as the Twilight Zone.

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dandelion
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posted 03-21-2004 05:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dandelion   Click Here to Email dandelion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm pretty sure Earl Hamner's "The Bewitchin' Pool" was the last episode run.

Absolutely, I think even the dislikable aspects of Serling's character, the things I strongly feel Ray very well may have picked up on, are directly attributable to his extreme insecurity.

For instance, one thing Ray HATES, a real red flag to him, is insincerity. Ray is one of the few people in the world who has developed the art of the truly gracious "No." When he says no, he really means it, and can do so without losing any respect from himself or the other person. Actually, he is the best at "Sorry, no," of anyone I have met, seen, or heard of in the world and may not appreciate how terribly difficult it is for many other people.

The Engel biography describes how Serling was forever verbally making promises and entering into deals he had either absolutely no means or no intention of fulfilling, or both. His agent then would have to follow him around breaking agreements he had made at parties, because Serling hated face-to-face confrontation. He liked the feeling of being seen as a good guy and this was his idea of being mister "Nice Guy." Now, Rod might have gotten along great in Japan, where he actually spent some time with the occupying forces after the war, and where they have developed a whole array of nuances of language for this, but can you imagine how this would piss off a straightforward, no bull guy such as Ray? (Who always reminds me of Jesus' "Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay.")

George Clayton Johnson speculates Rod made promises to Ray he had no way to keep because the network wouldn't let him keep. Whether Rod knew this at the time would be hard to say. See above for my assessment of the network--a heartless bunch of bastards who screwed over Rod and are now out after his fans.

The one character trait I find hardest to take is hypocrisy. Rod did seem to have a bad habit of being nice to a person's face, saying he was listening to them and that they were interesting, when he didn't mean it (unlike Ray--who the minute he gets bored, abruptly lets a person know to get lost). A person had to know him for a long time, or hear the facts from another person, to get onto it.

Several such incidents occurred when he was out drinking with friends. I'm sure I don't have to elaborate on how a group of guys out drinking and trying to be funny revert to high school age. He would be all nice to someone's face and then make a mean remark behind their back. For instance, he went up to this girl he had known in high school, kissed her on the cheek, called her by name, and had her in tears for remembering her and being so nice. When he went back to his friends, he said, "How could I forget her? She was the ugliest thing I ever saw!"

Thing is, unlike a real creep (such as, say, John Huston) Rod seems never to have humiliated someone in front of himself or others to their knowledge! The person always came away with the impression of Rod as really nice, and the realization that they'd been had would hit later and require another source to inform them. There is also the issue of tastes in humor, not only what seems funny when a person is slightly drunk, in a group, and awful when sober, alone, but just differing humor. Rod had an off-color sense of humor not everyone appreciated, and could really offend people when he was trying to be funny, which, as George Clayton Johnson recalls, he did with the California Group.

The hypocrisy subject is difficult for me as it reminds me of an experience with one of my college professors. I'd gone back to visit, and only a certain number of people who'd seemed particularly nice or caring were on my list to look up, including this one professor who'd had me really fooled. When I went to the English Department to ask about his schedule, the secretary went into the room where he was. With a heavy door closed and machines running, I'm sure he thought I couldn't hear him, but he had a very deep resounding voice and I will never (twenty years, folks!) forget his words. "Oh, she's a former student, one of these hangers-on, and I don't care if I never see her again." I went to my sister, who still attended the college, absolutely bawling, my point being, why did he pretend to care if he didn't? If people can't be nice, it's all the more important that they be at least sincere, but he was among those who just couldn't manage either! So my sister went to his office at the appointed time and totally bitched him out, while I went to see one of my real friends, a guy who remarked on how strange it was that Humanities professors, who work all the time with arts created from emotion, can be some of the most unfeeling jerks around!

I don't believe for a moment that Rod was ever really mean at heart, and I do believe he did himself more harm than he ever did anyone else, but I am left with the impression he probably left a string of hurt feelings along the way just from the manner he chose to deal with people. Engel notes he didn't last long in psychotherapy probably because he'd lied to himself so long, then with lies to cover the lies, it was just too much to peel all the layers down to the truth.

Oh, I guess it's like that poem, "He is more to be pitied than censured," but it would be a waste trying to make Ray see that due to the matter-of-fact directness of his own approach.

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From Greentown Illinois
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posted 03-21-2004 05:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for From Greentown Illinois   Click Here to Email From Greentown Illinois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good info, Dandelion.
Thanks.

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Nard Kordell
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posted 03-21-2004 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nard Kordell   Click Here to Email Nard Kordell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I met Serling once, while he was coming out of a restaurant, arms piled high with white wrapped carry-outs. Myself, I skooted out of the bushes like a startled rabbit, laying hold of my 'prey' before 'it' got away. And I met nothling less than a welcoming smile.

We chatted so briefly as he got into one of those custom made vehicles, that I expressed to him ...looked like a great fantastic old copper inlaid printing press I saw in Chicago years before. He stood about up to the bottom of my ears, his eyes were both badly bloodshot, but that smile was steady and endearing.

He answered questions about writing, and the passion needed for it. And I continue to think fondly of that moment ...long after his car literally swallowed him up with all those groceries, and he was gone...

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From Greentown Illinois
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posted 03-21-2004 11:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for From Greentown Illinois   Click Here to Email From Greentown Illinois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a priceless memory, Nard. I will carry your recollection of that night with me now (vicarious living I guess, but not so sinful I think) every time I see the Twilight Zone or think of Serling. Thanks for sharing.

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