Friday, April 30, 2010

From Forry Ackerman to Orson Welles: The Views and Reviews of Steve Vertlieb

The Thunder Child is proud to announce our new pubishing venture, Sacred Poet Press, which is an ebook-only press at the present time.

http://volcanoseven.com/SacredPoetPress

The first offering in our pantheon is a collection of the works of Steve Vertlieb, entitled From Forry Ackerman to Orson Welles: The Views and Reviews of Steve Vertlieb.



All of the work below either first appeared at The Thunder Child science fiction and fantasy webzine, or was reprinted there with Steve's permission.

If you don't have a Kindle (currently the only format where the book is available), you can download a FREE Kindle emulator:

Kindle emulator for the PC
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311

Kindle emulator for IPod and Iphone
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&ref=kcp_pc_ddp_dtl&docId=1000301301

Kindle for Blackberry
https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=klm_lnd_dtl?docId=1000468551


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Acknowledgements
Introducing Steve Vertlieb
Reminiscences
1. The Most “Famous Monster” of Them All: A Personal Remembrance of Forrest J. Ackerman
2. A Chip off the Old Bloch
3. How I Met the Blob
4. The “Milk” of Human Kindness
Tributes
1. The Gentle Monster – The Life of Boris Karloff
2. Vampire in the Shadows – The Life of Bela Lugosi
3. Xanadu: A Castle in the Clouds – The Life of Orson Welles
4. Time After Time – The Life of Miklos Rozsa
6. Between This World and the Next – The Twilight Zone
Documentaries
1. Under The Stars of Egypt: The Making of Kreating Karloff
Reviews
1. Movie: The Dark Knight
2. Movie: Peter Jackson’s King Kong
3. DVD Release: Peter Jackson’s King Kong Revisited
4. Soundtrack CDs: Tribute Film Classics: Mysterious Island, Fahrenheit 451 and “Walking Distance”, Varese Sarabande’s North By Northwest
5. Documentary: Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann
6. Soundtrack CDs: Monstrous Music: The Blob and The Intruder
7. Soundtrack CD: Howard Shore’s Return of the King
8. Rock Musical CD: Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds
Interviews
1. The Thunder Child Interviews Steve Vertlieb
2. The Return of Steve Vertlieb: The Thunder Child Interviews Steve Vertlieb Again

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What we need to learn from history: 400 years ago

I just saw an editorial cartoon in which two Native Americans confront a male and a female Pilgrim and say, "No passport? No Green card? You can't enter our country."

And that refrain is a typical one, I'm afraid. "We stole this land from the Indians, so what right do we have to try to keep people from Mexico, Central America, and any other country, out of our country? (And, of course, what right do we have to expect them all to speak English?)

Here's the thing. 400 years ago, the Native Americans consisted of thousands of tribes, most of them - not all, but most of them - hating each other and warring against each other. They could not - and did not - secure their borders. Result - all the Native Americans have left of their land is reservations, where they dwell in poverty and drunkenness.

What is the lesson we need to learn here? That after 400 years of owning this land, we Americans - people born here in those 400 years, and those who immigrated legally, are in danger of losing that land to new invaders.

These new invaders don't have the guns or technological superiority (except the drug cartels, of course) what they have instead is the "R" word. Try to keep them out and it's "Oh, you're racist."

No, we're not racist. We just can't afford to let people in here overwhelming our welfare system. We're already bankrupt!

Everytime you read about the problem with illegal immigration, the "mainstream" or "lamestream" or "driveby" media always, always, calls it "immigration." They never mention that what Arizona and other states are trying to fix is "illegal" immigration.

Frankly, it is because there are so many illegals in this country that actual citizens, of Latino and Hispanic heritage, get such a bum rap. The illegals are a slap in the face to those indviduals who came to this country legally and did everything they were required to do to gain citizenship. Then we've got these illegals who just waltz in, and expect, and are, put on the welfare rolls immediately. Oh, yes, there are pockets of resistance - but those people who try to fight back are labeled racist, and their efforts are doomed to failure.

The US is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. We need educated, productive immigrants coming here - people who won't immediately go on welfare and never get off. People who will learn our language - that'd be English - to make it easier for them to succeed. We don't need people who have no education, no desire to learn English, to come here and get on our welfare system.

Don't get me wrong. Who wants to live in Mexico? Or Central America? Nothing but grinding poverty and dishonest politicans - worse than our own politicians. I don't begrudge people who want a better life.

But I don't want my country dragged down to Mexico's level of poverty because we didn't secure our borders. Let's help them *in their country* and keep them out of ours until they have the education and knowledge to be worthy to come here.

In the early 1900s the US was wide-open. Anyone who was willing to work with their hands was as valued as those who could work with their brains. That's no longer the case. Now, we need brain work.

We need to stop the invaders. If we can't, we probably won't end up like the Native Americans, living in our own little reservations. What we will end up like (and by we I mean the middle class, the people who do all the work in this country) is slaves who do the work while the poor live comfortably in their houses with their perks.

(How do I know this? You should keep up with what's happening in Haiti. Everyone who was hurt in the earthquake is getting free healthcare and free food. So, other Haitians, who weren't hurt by the earthquake, are now moving into the "tent cities" in order to get all this free stuff. Human nature.

Meantime, the UN, with funds given to them mostly by the US, are spending $400 million a year in Haiti. Of that, $39 mil goes to the Haitians, the remainng $371 mil goes to the salaries and perks of the people there.

There's something wrong with this picture.

The US is bankrupt. It's time we stopped throwing money away on other, poor countries with crooked politicians, and kept the money in our country. Yes, our politicians are crooked also, but not as egregiously as everyone elses.

Smoking criminalized, Marijuana legalized

What's wrong with this picture?

Some town in Virginia wants to legalize marijuana. They want the income from the taxes they can get off its sale - much like the Feds want the income they can get off the sale of cigarettes....

In any event, here's the thing. It's more and more illegal for people to smoke cigarettes. If you've got kids in the house, you can be arrested for smoking. If you've got kids in the car, you can get arrested for smoking. If you're walking in the street near somebody's home who has a sensitive nose, you can get arrested for smoking.

If they legalize marijuana, where are these people going to smoke the things?

And will there be a breathalyzer test that will allow the police to bring in drivers who are stoned out of their minds, are will be being stoned out of your mind legal?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

NEW World of Warcraft Steins FROM TAVERNCRAFT


TAVERNCRAFT LAUNCHES WORLD OF WARCRAFT® HORDE AND ALLIANCE LEGENDARY
COLLECTION STEINS

Signed, Numbered, Limited-Edition Steins Now Available To General Public

SAN DIEGO, CA (April 23, 2010) ­ Taverncraft, a subsidiary of 3 Point Entertainment LLC, today announced it has begun shipping the latest additions to their celebrated line-up of steins based on Blizzard Entertainment's massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft®. The new Blood of the Horde and Alliance United Legendary Collection Steins are being released only as numbered, limited-edition collectibles signed by their artist. These Legendary Collection steins will be limited to only 999 per design, and retail for $189.99 each plus shipping/handling. Ordering information is available at wowsteins.com
http://wowsteins.com .

"Last year our first signed and numbered stein ­ "the Rise of the Lich King Legendary Collection Stein" ­ sold out almost immediately after we announced its availability," said 3 Point Entertainment President Jerry Bennington. ³Since that time we've been working with Blizzard Entertainment to determine our next release in this popular stein series. We all agreed that Blood of the Horde and Alliance United were the perfect follow-ups for World of Warcraft players."







So, what makes these exquisite steins Legendary? Along with the artist signature, each handcrafted, fine-grain stoneware stein stands over 10" tall and features a sculpted, solid pewter lid richly plated in 18K gold. The handle and base are also hand-painted with premium gold accents. Each Legendary stein is packaged in a collectible gift box along with a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.

Additional information about the Blood of the Horde Legendary Collection Stein and the Alliance United Legendary Collection Stein, along with details about Taverncraft's line-up of World of Warcraft Epic Collection steins, is available at wowsteins.com .

###

About Taverncraft
Taverncraft is a subsidiary of 3 Point Entertainment, LLC, a privately held company headquartered in San Diego, California. Dedicated to delivering superior quality drink ware, Taverncraft-branded steins, mugs, and tankards eagerly sought after around the world for their collectability, originality, and functionality. Additional information is available at
www.taverncraft.com http://www.taverncraft.com

About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft® and the Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® series, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
(www.blizzard.com http://www.blizzard.com ), a division of Activision
Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry¹s most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment¹s track record includes eleven #1-selling games and multiple Game of the Year awards. The company¹s online-gaming service, Battle.net®, is one of the largest in the world, with
millions of active players.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tim Tebow Illustrates What's Wrong With America


My actual title for this blog entry is The Case of Tim Tebow Illustrates What's Wrong With America, but that was too long to fit in the subject line.

I have nothing against Tim Tebow. Indeed, his tendency - or fate - to have photos of him taken with his shirt off make for good eye candy.

But here's what I find sad, and somewhat frightening. Tim Tebow didn't attend the first round of the draft yesterday. In his press conference (a college kid having a press conference!) he stated that the logistics of getting his whole family to the draft site were too much. And I'm thinking, why bring your whole family? Why not just go on your own? Obviously he didn't expect to be taken in the first round (indeed, the only people who expected him to be taken in the first round were the ones who took him) and to save himself embarrassment of having his face shown on TV after every other pick was chosen in front of him, he just decided to stay home.

At least, that had been my assumption.

But now, with photos of Tebow in a Broncos cap surfacing on the web, it seems that there actually were cameras in Tebow's own house, focused on him while he watched the draft. And presumably there was a Bronco's official just outside his door, waiting for him to be announced so that he could go inside the house and give him the cap.

And I'm thinking to myself, why does the NFL do this? Every year for probably 20 years, the NFL draft of college players is a "big deal" on ESPN. Why? The same goes for basketball, I believe. I dont' think it happens for baseball. It used to happen for the WNBA but I don't think anyone ever watched it...

But that's beside the point. The point is...who cares where these games-players go in the draft? They are men who play a game, and get paid way too much money to do so. [Indeed, I am just waiting for Obama to step in and place cap limits on how much athletes can be paid. He will probably do this for every industry except for the one that most needs it - that of lawyers.]

Meantime, where is the adulation for the geniuses, the doctors who find cures for various diseases - or who at least are looking for them. The men and women who are entrepreneurs, starting businesses that earn them their own money so they don't have to live on welfare, and enable them to employ other people so they don't have to live on welfare.

Pop quiz. How many astronauts have been in space, and what are their names? Do you know the names of the astronauts aboard the International Space Station right now? Do you even know that there is a space station orbiting the earth? But I bet you can name the entire roster of your favorite sports team. (I know I can. ; ) )

The US is in danger of losing its pre-eminent position in the world, as the best in everything. Is it so bad, to aspire to be the best in everything you do? But now, not only are we in danger of losing that position but in many aspects we've already lost it.

And one reason is, I believe, because the great "unwashed" are content to sit on their butts and watch football, baseball and basketball, and have no interest whatsoever in the arts and sciences.

I think in some respects it's because of the nature of the beast. All these athletes have "god-given" talent. Someone sitting on their butts on the couch can think, "well, if God had given me that kind of talent, I could have been a football player too."

But being well-educated is different. People actually have to work to get an education. And this implies, to those folks sitting on their butts, that these people working for an education are snobs, that they think they're better than everyone else, and so on. (This is particularly true in minority neighborhoods, where anybody's attempt to get a good education to get out of that neighborhood is typically met with both verbal and physical abuse.) Better to make everyone poor than to have the ambitious and intelligent worker become rich.

And that's a big part of what's wrong with America today.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea movie concept paintings

or...it's hard to get good help these days.

Just found a website that had the below photos of concept sketches for the new Seaview and flying sub for a new Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea movie (is there any hope in Hades that they will play appropriate homage to the TV series?) and now when I go back to provide the link to that site, I can't find it.

So, sorry about that. Somewhere out there, there is a site that deserves credit.

The top photo is supposed to be the Seaview.







Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Dive In Again

Only a few TV series have thousands of loyal fans after over 40 years. Star Trek is one. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is another.

What brings old and new fans back to this show over and over again?

Read about it at:
http://volcanoseven.com/TheThunderChild/AmazonOnlyReady/VoyageCharacters.html



And don't forget to pick up your copy of Avatar:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Zombies - the game review

If you're a fan of the rather graphic card game Zombies!, check out this review from The Thunder Child's resident horror specialist, Matt Sanborn:

Not Dead Yet, by Matt Sanborn.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tom Baker Reads The Brain of Morbius

One of the most popular of the Tom Baker Doctor Whos.

It's in 8 thirty minute installments on BBC Radio 7.

Each installment is up for 7 days, so there's plenty of time to listen to it, but dont' delay.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00s09rv

or http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009szrh

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This Restaurant WIll Give You A Free Lunch

If you can get there.

Is it a real place?

Huashan Mountain is located some 240 kilometers away from Xi’an, approximately a two and half hours drive. It is one of the five sacred mountains in China. Huashan Mountain is well-known for its sheer cliffs and plunging ravines. It is the most dangerous mountain in China for climbers.










All You Have to Do Is Get There.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Audio books - it's all about the reader/narrator/performer

I'm currently listening to Clive Cussler's Atlantis Found, read by Michael Prichard.

And I must say its hard slogging.

Michael Prichard has narated most of Cussler's books, and he, as a narrator, is about as good as Cussler is a writer. Lousy.

(Yes, Cussler is a lousy writer. He's got a great formula, a great "schtick", but his prose is soooooooooooo horrible...)

I like to read bits of Clive Cussler's books. The openings, which from Raise the Titanic onward, deal with historical artifacts being found and hidden away. Then, in the present day, Dirk Pitt (and other of Cussler's heroes like Kurt Austin) has to find these artifacts in order to save the world.

I'm working on a book about the search for Atlantis, and I had remembered enjoying much of Atlantis Found, and so I decided to give the audiobook a try.

But Prichard's narration is so dry and uninflected and uninspired that I'm about to give up on it, as soon as he gets beyond Cussler's interminable prologues and gets started with dialog between the various characters, to see if he tries doing any different accents or some kind of acting, to distinguish the characters.

If you want to listen to an audio book to learn how it should be done, check out the books read by Robin Bailey. (You may have a hard time, my collection of his audiobooks has come from libraries, who de-accessioned them. A pity.) Bailey, who died a few years ago, read several Agatha Christie books, a couple of Ruth Rendells, and a few Catherine Aird's. And his voice was an instrument. No matter how dull and boring a prologue or somethign could be, Bailey could make it sound interesting. IT's like that old cliche of RIchard Burton being able to read a phone book and make it sound interesting. I don't know if Burton could do it, but Bailey definitely could.

Each character has its own accent, female characters have higher voices than male characters, and the narrator, 1st, 3rd or impersonal, also had an inflection. You never got bored listening to Bailey read a story... but this Prichard guy... his monotonous voice just goes on and on and on....

Having said that, don't forget to buy the book and audio book from Amazon.com to support this site: ; )




Here's Robin Bailey's work. You might be able to find them at your library...




And he's gotten to the dialog... and its just as bad. Argh. I've got to turn this off. Once you've heard someone good, like Robin Bailey, you can't listen to this low-grade stuff.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The YouTube redesign

A few days ago, YouTube unveiled its new design on an unsuspecting public.

And I have to say it is one of the worst designs of a website that I have ever seen. It's utter garbage.

In checking the Forums there, I find that I am not alone - not that I expected to be. There are over 700 comments there, every single one pointing out that the redesign stinks.

And yet YouTube still hasn't gotten wise and reverted to its old layout. And they probably won't.

And it's a tragedy because the old layout had everything. Everything was in its place, easily found, and the site looked elegant.

This new layout... you can't find anything! It is just utter garbage!

If you dislike the new YouTube layout and haven't made your opinion known yet, sign into the "support Forum" and express your displeasure.

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/youtube?hl=en&utm_source=HC&utm_medium=leftnav&utm_campaign=youtube

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Brewster Rockit, Space Guy


I enjoy this comic strip, and just in case you haven't discovered it, I'll share it with you.

http://www.tmsfeatures.com/comics/comic-strips/brewster-rockit/25625654.html is supposed to be its official site, but a more poorly designed official site for a comic strip I have yet to see.

Bookmark this one instead: http://www.gocomics.com/brewsterrockit/

Some sites, such as Yahoocomics, typically reproduce the strip in black and white, but a lot of them are in color, so the gocomics site is the best to use,



Some sample comics. Click to see them life size.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Killer Rabbit (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

Ever wonder where Monty Python got the idea for the killer rabbit scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I bet you thought it was just because the rabbit was the most innocuous creature they could think of.

But note that the rabbit is hopping about near what looks like a volcano.

I just found out a couple of days ago that there is actually a species of rabbit that lives on the slopes of a volcano in Mexico - and only there. (It's not carnivorous, of course!) But I just wonder if someone in Monty Python heard about these rabbits and then got this idea.



The Volcano Rabbit also known as teporingo or zacatuche (Romerolagus diazi) is a small rabbit that resides in the mountains of Mexico. It is the world's second smallest rabbit, second only to the Pygmy Rabbit. It has small rounded ears, short legs, and short, thick fur. The Volcano Rabbit lives in groups of 2 to 5 animals in burrows. Unlike many species of rabbits (and similar to pikas), the Volcano Rabbit utters very high-pitched sounds instead of thumping its feet on the ground to warn other rabbits of danger. It is nocturnal and is highly active during twilight, dawn and all times in between. The Volcano Rabbit weighs approximately 390–600 g (14–21 oz). As of 1969, there were 1000 to 1200 in the wild.

Habitat
The Volcano Rabbit lives in Mexico. The rabbit has been pushed into areas on the slopes of the IztaccĂ­huatl, Pelado, Popocatepetl, and Tlaloc volcanoes. The Volcano Rabbit is generally found between elevations of 2800 m and 4250 m in pine forests with a dense undergrowth of bunch grass and rocky terrain called the transverse neovolcanic axis.

Diet
The Volcano Rabbit feeds on green leaves in zacaton grasses, the undeveloped leaves of spiny herbs and the bark of alder trees. During the rainy season, it will also eat oats and corn from crops.

Decline
The most serious threats to the Volcano Rabbit are habitat degradation and target shooting.[2]

Habitat management
The IUCN/SSC Lagomorph Specialist Group has created an action plan for this rabbit (Fa & Bell, 1990). The plan focuses upon the need to manage the burning and overgrazing of the zacaton habitats and to enforce laws prohibiting the capture, sale and hunting of the animal. Studies are recommended into the geographical range, habitat relationships, population dynamics and life history (Fa & Bell, 1990). In addition, habitat restoration and the establishment of zacaton corridors to link core areas of habitat are needed. Captive breeding colonies exist at Jersey Zoo, UK and Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City

Monday, April 05, 2010

Robert Culp: An Appreciation

Matt Sanborn wrote this piece for The Thunder Child the day after Mr. Culp passed away, unfortunately computer problems prevented me from getting it uploaded in a timely manner.

Please check it out at:

Robert Culp: An Appreciation

Tom Reads Terrance Dick's The Giant Robot


If you go to BBC Radio 7 - this URL in fact - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00rwqfh, you will be able to listen to Tom Baker read the Terrance Dicks novelization of his first ever Doctor Who appearance, The Giant Robot. (The episode as aired was called The Robot, but the novelization was called The Giant Robot.)

It is a lot of fun - Baker clearly has a lot of fun reading it. It is in several parts, so you'll need to return each day to listen to it.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Gods Hate Kansas Inspired "The Inheritors'



I was writing an article on meteorites for my Girl Scientist blog, and using as a resource once of Isaac Asimov's essays in which he mentions that in the 1930s, when people first starting finding a "disproportionate" number of stony meteorites in Kansas, and they thought that "God hated Kansas." Someone actually wrote a novel, which appeared in a 1941 issue of Startling Stories.

Here's the plot of the novella:
THE GODS HATE KANSAS by Joseph Millard
INVASION FROM THE STARS

It began with the landing of nine meteors in Kansas. Then, suddenly, it exploded into a massive catastrophe.

First, the meteorite investigating team were turned into automatons, ruled by an unknown, alien intelligence. They barricaded themselves
from the world and began building a rocket project, aimed at traversing the stars.

Then the Crimson Plague struck, sweeping over Earth’s population, destroying human capacities and defying scientific probing.

Only a few escaped the invasion from outer space, among them astrophysicist Curt Temple, whose girlfriend, Lee Mason, was enslaved, her personality changed.

Curt knew he had to pit his slim knowledge against the most perfect intelligence in the cosmos to save the world – and the woman he loved.


Doesn't that first part sound like "The Inheritors" - the two part episode from The Outer Limits, starring Steve Ihnat as Lt. Minns and Robert Duvall as Mr. Ballard?


(You can see the complete episode at YouTube, or better yet, purchase the complete Outer Limits set from Amazon, via the links on this page!)