Tag Archives: Frederik Pohl

Drivin’ and Writin’

This is one of the most unusual writing methods I’ve ever heard:

Every evening, after supper and perhaps an hour or so of television, AJ would fill a thermos with hot coffee, check his tape recorder to make sure the batteries were healthy and there was plenty of tape, kiss his wife, Edna, good night and then get into his car and drive away. Drive where? That didn’t matter because he wasn’t sightseeing. What he was doing, Scheherazade-like, was dictating a new story each night, though instead of into the impatient ears of a threatening sultan it went no farther than a spool of magnetic tape — at least, not until AJ got home sometime in that early morning, dumped the filled tape spools next to Edna’s typewriter and went cheerfully off to sleep. Edna was an excellent typist, so by the time A J shambled into the kitchen for breakfast around early afternoon, the manuscript was ready to be shown to an editor.

Now is as good a time as any to restate my opinion that Frederik Pohl’s blog is one of the best writer’s sites to be found on the Intertubes. 

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Drivin’ and Writin’

This is one of the most unusual writing methods I’ve ever heard of:

Every evening, after supper and perhaps an hour or so of television, AJ would fill a thermos with hot coffee, check his tape recorder to make sure the batteries were healthy and there was plenty of tape, kiss his wife, Edna, good night and then get into his car and drive away. Drive where? That didn’t matter because he wasn’t sightseeing. What he was doing, Scheherazade-like, was dictating a new story each night, though instead of into the impatient ears of a threatening sultan it went no farther than a spool of magnetic tape — at least, not until AJ got home sometime in that early morning, dumped the filled tape spools next to Edna’s typewriter and went cheerfully off to sleep. Edna was an excellent typist, so by the time A J shambled into the kitchen for breakfast around early afternoon, the manuscript was ready to be shown to an editor.

Now is as good a time as any to restate my opinion that Frederik Pohl’s blog is one of the best writer’s sites to be found on the Intertubes. 

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Friday finds

In which the pioneering rapper talks up a Los Angeles architectural landmark. Learn more about the Eames House here. Some of Ice Cube’s best raps here, here, here, and here. NSFW, unless you work at Death Row Records.

You know you want to hear Flannery O’Connor reading “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” So what are you waiting for?

Ace thriller writer J.D. Rhoades talks about why he decided to go indie and start publishing new books (and out-of-print backlist titles) as e-books.  His new one, Gallows Pole, will scare the snot out of you.

Madam Mayo, author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, interviews Solveig Eggerz, author of Seal Woman.

When you’re introduced to a fencer, don’t do the squiggly arm thing. Just don’t.

In which Frederik Pohl reminisces about the Battle of the Douchebag, the Battle of the 4-Color Border, and the night spent with Harlan Ellison on Long John Nebel’s talk show.

From Psycho to Casino, from The Man with the Golden Arm to Anatomy of a Murder, it’s a tribute to the title sequences directed by Saul Bass.

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Friday finds

Anthony Burgess once said he would have preferred to be thought of as a musician who wrote novels, rather than a novelist who wrote music on the side. This interview with composer-conductor Paul Phillips includes samples of the late author’s symphonic and choral works, and touches on Burgess’ use of musical structures in his novels: e.g., A Clockwork Orange was patterned on the sonata form. It’s all interesting enough to make me hope Phillips’ book about Burgess and his music, A Clockwork Counterpoint, comes out in a much less pricey format.

What’s a nice waterfront property in Iceland going for these days?

A meditation on the wonder of the guitar, sparked by current shows at both the Met and MoMA.

Allison Flood goes forward in time to critique an unreleased and (by her) unread Stephen King novel about going back in time.

Frederik Pohl remembers Ian and Betty Ballantine, the couple who turned Ballantine Books into a paperback publishing giant.

For the day after St. Patrick’s Day, a brief animated biography of the man of the hour.

Brian Malow talks about Hollywood’s intensifying love affair with the works of Philip K. Dick. At the risk of sounding repetitious, I still think Christopher Nolan’s Memento is the film that comes closest to capturing PKD’s tone, even if it isn’t based on one of his stories.

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Friday finds

I am seriously pumped to see the Coen Bros. adaptation of True Grit, and this advance review confirms my hunch that the Coens are simpatico with the work of Charles Portis, one of the greats of American literature. But while I’m at it, and since this movie has “Oscar bait” written all over it, let me propose a drinking game for the next Academy Awards broadcast. When True Grit bags a golden guy, have one person take a shot whenever Charles Portis gets mentioned in the thank-you speech, and have another person take a shot whenever somebody gives a shout-out to John Wayne, who starred in the first, barely adequate film version. Judging from the way the Coens handled things a couple of years ago, I expect one guest will be dry as a bone at the end of the night while the other is comatose.

If you think the treatment endured by Bradley Manning is shocking, read Zeitoun by David Eggers and learn that not only can it happen here — it’s been happening for a while.

Frederik Pohl reminisces about Cordwainer Smith here and here.

Crustypunks? New one on me.

So you want to be a freelance writer?

Author and translator Damion Searls talks about Rainer Maria Rilke.

But the entire time I was watching the last two-thirds of the film, I could not get out of my head the fact that the foundation, the groundwork, had been so thoroughly botched that if the film had been re-contextualized as a house, it would’ve been leaning heavily to one side, with the bricks falling to the ground and the roof sliding half-off.”

Some drunks are brawlers and some drunks are bawlers. I guess we know which category goes for John Boehner.

Animation Backgrounds is film geekery at its finest: a blog devoted to the backdrops of animated films. If you think that sounds dull, check out this breakdown of the lush, detail-crammed backdrops from Who Framed Roger Rabbit and yawn no more.

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Friday finds

Proportion Wheel

Illustrator blog site Drawger presents The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, some of which I still use regularly. (You can take my Rapidographs when you pry them from my cold dead fingers.) Others bring back dread memories of the days when newspaper pages were assembled on flats, with stories and veloxed photos printed as blocks and strips of paper and fed through waxers by pasteup artists. This hand-held waxer, for example, was enough to give Torquemada nightmares: that little red plug was often loose or missing entirely, allowing hot wax to splash across the hand of an unwary paster-upper. How about this Freddy Kreuger manicurist set used to cut and transfer itty-bitty strips of type? Hard to believe I used to enjoy working with this stuff — I even became quite a dab hand with the proportion wheel pictured up top.        

David Bordwell has some advice for scholarly authors.

Where would Pulitzer Prize-winning music writer Alex Ross go if he had a time machine?

The bus ride up is not for cardiac patients. I nearly shat myself four times in 20 minutes, what with the switchbacks and the crumbly one-lane roads with buses running two directions. Several times we inched painfully close to the ravine to allow another bus to pass, and I could stare straight down several thousand feet at the rusting carcasses of previous, less lucky buses. I can only hope the folks aboard died on the way down.”

Author and cult figure Ayn Rand was a huge fan of Charlie’s Angels. In fact, she wanted Farrah Fawcett to play Dagny Taggart if a movie version of Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged ever got off the ground. 

Frederik Pohl on the hazards of chemically assisted writing.

“Photographs of the novelist Kingsley Amis, taken between his fiftieth Kingsley Amisbirthday in April 1972 and his death in October 1995, sometimes show a resplendent sheen on his forehead, nose, and cheeks. This is what some people call ‘sweat alcohol,’ a common problem among heavy drinkers of shorts and beer. On both of the occasions on which I had the pleasure to meet this funny and distinguished man, he drank whisky throughout lunch and by the afternoon was wearing that slightly bewildered, slightly aggressive, slightly penitent expression known as the ‘Scotch gaze,’ a look familiar to all who have walked the streets of Glasgow or Aberdeen at closing time on a Friday night. It is an expression curiously unique to whisky drinkers. You can often tell a man’s tipple just by looking at him.”

Now that you know what bully sticks are, how do you feel about giving one of them to your dog?

Hanif Kureishi on the rigors of adapting his second novel, The Black Album, for a stage version.

Are you a female debut author whose book will be released from a major publisher between September 2009 and September 2010? Then you might want to join The Debutante Ball class of 2010.

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Friday finds

golden-hare

Thirty years ago, Welsh artist Kit Williams published Masquerade, a beautifully illustrated children’s book in which the paintings concealed clues to the location of a golden hare pendant Williams had buried somewhere in the British Isles. The search masqueradefor the golden hare became an international craze, but when somebody did finally bag the pendant two years later, it turned out to be a cheat — instead of solving the riddle, the winner had used inside information provided by an ex-girlfriend of Williams. (The hare was last seen being auctioned by Sotheby’s to an undisclosed buyer.) Williams, whose life had been turned upside down by the obsessive interest of some fans, swore off any further treasure hunts, but four gardens in the Cotswolds are staging an equally elaborate hunt in honor of the 30th anniversary of Masquerade.     

You have until Monday to download your free audio file of actor John Lithgow reading from Who Is Mark Twain, a new collection of unpublished essays culled from Twain’s papers.

Attention writers! Here are some sure-fire ways to get your work rejected!

How about a relaxing trip to Robinson Crusoe Island? It looks pretty nice, actually.

J.D. Rhoades makes the Furr fly. Lance Mannion wonders what the hell is wrong with the conservative claque on the Supreme Court

Bob Dylan says he could write a song like “Superstition” but not one like “Sir Duke.” He also says Alicia Keys and Neil Young are archetypes. whether they realize it or not.

Howard the Duck (the character, not the legendarily awful movie) endures yet another indignity.

Science fiction grandmaster Frederik Pohl reminisces about his friend and (for a time) collaborator, Cyril M. Kornbluth: “He owned a cmkornbluthbook, written by one of his high-school teachers, I think, which gave the rules for composing every kind of verse I ever heard of. Cyril and I studied the book and resolved to write one of each. We made a good start, actually writing a haiku (we spelled it “hokku”), a villanelle, a sestina, two sonnets (one Petrarchan and one Shakespearean) and I think a couple of others. We bogged down when we came to the chant royal (the chant royal is HARD) and, like most of the other Futurians, we decided to try our luck with science fiction.”

The poet and the paintings.

Time to get cracking on your cigar box ukulele. Just follow these instructions.

Here’s your chance to vote on the worst media moments of President Obama’s first 100 days in office. Results will be announced Wednesday.

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Hell on the high seas

Talk about trouble in paradise. Frederik Pohl is renowned as a master of science fiction, but recently he found himself living in a horror story when he discovered that he would be spending weeks on a South Seas cruise with nothing but FoxNoise for information.

Pohl, an intrepid man, found a way to rise above such adversity:

Along about the tenth day, I finally figured out that, if I tuned to that channel but turned the sound down to zero, I would never have to hear the crazy-making utterances of Hannity, O’Reilly, et al anymore but could get a rough idea of what was going on in the world from the news crawl at the bottom of the screen, which, relatively speaking, was only mildly toxic.

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Beyond the blue blog horizon

Science fiction grandmaster Frederik Pohl has a new blog. And not a grudging, infrequently updated don’t-bother-me-with-this-Internet-crap kind of Web site like Harlan Ellison’s, but a highly readable jumping-in-with-both-feet bloggity blog blog like the ones maintained by John Scalzi, Michael Swanwick and the like. The name of the blog takes off from Pohl’s memoir, The Way the Future Was, which is as charming an autobiography as you’re likely to read. (Bird-dogged by Fred K.)

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