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  1. #1
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    RIP Harlan Ellison

    A literary giant in a diminutive package. My favorite author as a teen, I learned a lot from his writing.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  2. #2
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    Superb and prolific writer, a giant in the SF Universe; left a deep impression on my youth; sounds delightfully volatile - wish I could have met him.

    Hopefully, he's engaging in wickedly scintillating conversation with S. Hawking at this very moment.

  3. #3
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    I would agree with both of the above posts for sure.

    My Harlan Ellison Experience #1
    I initially stumbled upon a couple of his short story collections--Deathbird Stories and Strange Wine--at the Napa County Library when I was in 8th/9th grade. The short stories "Along The Scenic Route" and "Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktock Man" were highly influential on my reading choices, and in terms of what I would come to like in the sci-fi genre, films, comic books, and novels. I also remember watching A Boy And His Dog somewhere in that era, as well, and eventually reading the novella.
    I ultimately ended up owning the very same library copies of those two books some years later when I was visiting home and found them for sale at the library book store.

    My Harlan Ellison Experience #2
    In the early '90s I was working as a paid intern at this radio trade magazine called The Gavin Report. They made most of their money by hosting these expansive conventions that brought radio station folks from all over North America to them. They always had a serious keynote speaker to open the convention. One year (before I'd worked for them) they had Harlan. When I was working there I was also freelancing on the side and had put together a story idea to interview a number of well-respected genre authors whe had also written comic books. My list included Harlan (who had penned a few Avengers and Daredevil issues), Joe R. Lansdale, and Andrew Vachss (at the time writing for comic books was not a thing that many established authors did). I remember I got in touch with Harlan through two of the main editors at the Gavin as they had been the ones to get him to be a keynote speaker at one of the conventions. I contacted Harlan and then waited for a reply. One day, while sitting at my desk I got a call from the Gavin CEO's assistant and she proceeds to tell me that she has a voicemail that she's going to forward to me. I get the voicemail and it's Harlan going off, dropping F-bombs like they were candy. His rant was several minutes long and basically in it he stated that he was fucking trying to reach some kid named Spence and why the fuck wasn't there an actual person answering phones and that he'd been stuck in fucking voicemail hell for what seemed an enternity...I called him back, he ranted some more about the lack of people who actually answered phones, how much technology (voicemail, specifically) sucked, and then we talked about comic books.
    Sadly, I don't think I was ever able to sell the story to anyone, so somewhere in a box I have a very cool interview with Harlan talking about comic books.

    My Harlan Ellison Experience #3
    A few years later, when I was living in the Lower Haight district of San Francisco I learned that Harlan would be doing a reading and book signing at The Booksmith in the Upper Haight. The schtick was that he'd visited the bookstore the night before and was given a hat filled with slips of paper, each containing a word or subject. He picked a number of the pieces at random and then on the next day, I believe it was a Saturday, he sat at a typewriter in the bookstore's front window and using the words and subjects on the slips of paper, spent the day (8 hours, roughly) writing a short story from scratch. Around 7pm that night he was going to read the story and then sign books and whatever else people had. I think he may have auctioned off the story, too, to either benefit the bookstore or some non-profit. This was before the Net was huge and I don't even think I had access to anything other than email at the time, so I remember that I either learned of the event from one of the free weeklies (SF Weekly or SF Bay Guardian) or I stumbled upon it on my usual weekend stroll to the Upper Haight for breakfast and some record shopping. At any rate, I remember seeing Ellison in the window typing away furiously and I ran the 10 blocks back down to my house to retrieve all of his books that I owned. I went back to the Booksmith and stood outside watching him type away in the window like a geeked-out fanboy. I remember that at one point in the day my friend Martina, a Swedish exchange student attending SF State, strolled by, saw me, asked what I was doing, and after I excitedly told her who Harlan was and what he was doing, she hung out with me and attended the reading. Harlan read the story and then sat at a table and graciously signed stuff. The guy in front of me was a heavyset dude that looked like he was the original model for the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons; fat, greasy, wearing an old army jacket covered with Star Trek patches. He had a large stack of memorabilia and when he got up to the table he began gushing about how amazing Harlan was, how he was the greatest author in the world, etc. Harlan looked up and straight-facedly said (and I paraphrase) "You need to get a fucking life." Or something to that effect. I just remember that he lit into the guy and totally shamed him, I mean the guy was literally deflated at being berated by his hero. Harlan was just venomous about how this guy was a nerd and all this shit. It was crazy. And there I was with a handful of books about to do the same thing. In a rare moment of clarity and. I dare say, brllliance on my part, I turned to Martina and gave her half of the books I had for Harlan to sign. Then I turned around and there was Harlan looking at me with a glare. I looked back at him and said something to the effect of: "Sir, you are the worst fucking hack author I know and everything you've ever written sucks." The people around me gasped. The room went quiet. Harlan looked at me, took a long pause, then broke out into a smile, jumped up and grabbed my hand saying "Thank you!". He signed my books, one of which he flipped to a certain story (I can't recall which one as I just loaned that book to a friend) and proceeded to cross out entire paragraphs of the story. When I looked at him he merely said that they were never supposed to be in the finished copy and his editors had published those passages against his will. I like to think he smiled at me as I snatched up my books and walked away, but who knows.

    I was actually reminded of all of these moments back in April when I re-watched The Terminator and at the end of the DVD there was a mention of Harlan that I did not recall being in the theatrical version. I Googled "Harlan Ellison and The Terminator" and learned that he had sued James Cameron and the film company citing that they had stolen an idea of his that had originally appeared in an Outer Limits episode. Crazy.
    Last edited by dookey67; 06-29-2018 at 03:42 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Those are cool stories, especially the last one.

    Like you, I probably stumbled upon him at a similar age. I was reading sci fi, and here was this Hugo and Nebula award winning author so I gave him a try. Blown. Away. At that age, I just didn't know that someone could write like that, could express hurt and anger and everything like that. Really opened my eyes to literature. That it wasn't just a story.

    He really was something very very special. Even if he didn't want to hear that.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  5. #5
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    Damn Dooks, you were truly living' the blessed life! Punking Harlon and he shakes your hand?!?!?!? Well played, Sir! That's some Hall of Fame curmudgeonly geezer-foo on Harlon's part - I have a new role model for my golden years.

  6. #6
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  7. #7
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    His introduction to the anthology “Dreams With Sharp Teeth” has a great anecdote that sums his writing up perfectly. A woman in the audience at one of his readings asks (and I paraphrase, since I gave my copy to a friend and never got it back): “Why do you write such dark, horrible stuff?”

    To which Harlan replied, “I want to wake people up from their boring, complacent lives, and to notice all the shit going on all around us. I want to poke you in the eye with a sharp stick to get you to pay attention; but since I can’t, I do it through writing.”

    Truly one of the greats; RIP.

  8. #8
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    Yeah, his nonfiction stuff is fantastic. I remember loving all of his intros in the Dangerous Visions anthology as much as I liked the stories themselves.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    Yeah, his nonfiction stuff is fantastic. I remember loving all of his intros in the Dangerous Visions anthology as much as I liked the stories themselves.
    I've got to get me copies of those Dangerous Visions anthologies. Dunno why I have never picked them up as I see them quite frequently at used bookstores. Hope they (the stores) don't jack up the prices now!

    On a recent trek to Berkeley/Oakland earlier in the month, I did pick up his non-fiction collection of TV and movie criticism: Harlan Ellison's Watching...


    I would easily say that Ellison, along with early Stephen King, was the most influential writer to me during my Junior and High School years.
    Then it was Clive Barker in college.
    And Joe R. Lansdale post-college.

    If y'all have never read the early short stories of either Barker (the Books of Blood vols. 1-3, specifically) and Lansdale (any collection that includes "The Night They Missed The Horror Show", really), then I would highly recommend them. Very visceral like Ellison, but in different, although similar, ways.
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

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  10. #10
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    Story about Harlan writing in bookstore windows:

    http://mentalfloss.com/article/65425...kstore-windows
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

    http://www.blizzardsportusa.com/

  11. #11
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    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post
    Dookey your story was wonderful. Thank you for that

  13. #13
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    Zooty zoot zoot! Rip
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  14. #14
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    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

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  15. #15
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    I liked this one. http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2018/0...lison.html?m=1

    He didn't make me a writer (even though I am one now, if a different sort). But the way Gaiman describes how that voice spoke (and speaks) to him, I get it. Ellison had a similar effect on me.

    There's a little something in my eye.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  16. #16
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    About 55 pages from finishing Gentleman Junkie and Other Stories of the Hung-Up Generation.
    Not the Ellison I grew up on, that is for sure. These are more like warped O. Henry-styled tales from the beat era.

    Got Dreams With Sharp Teeth queued up on Netflix next...
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

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  17. #17
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    Yet another decent article about Ellison. A bit older, but still a good read.


    https://thesmartset.com/article01271401/
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

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  18. #18
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    I watched the Harlan Ellison documentary DREAMS WITH TEETH last night.
    Cannot recommend it highly enough.
    4/5

    “He’s like a skin graft on a leper” - Robin Williams

    This documentary is a must-see for any fan of Ellison’s work. It provides some interesting insight into the conundrum that was Harlan Ellison.
    He gets angry (a lot).
    He gets maudlin (once in the film he cries).
    He comes off conceited (a lot).
    He comes off humble (occassionally).
    Like most artists, he’s a walking contradiction and that’s what makes him interesting.
    Lottsa archival footage from the ‘60s and ‘70s, which are great flashback snapshots of how much of a hipster he was.
    There's also some great guest commentary and interviews with Neil Gaiman and Robin Williams, plus a lot of folks you’ve never heard of (a couple of them I was like “How the f#$k was Harlan Ellison even friends with this doofus? But, to each their own).
    Throughout the film Ellison talks about his childhood, rants fantastic against the Hollywood machine, rails on stupid people, and never misses an opportunity to name drop all the famous people he was friends with. Oh, and the stories! Ellison LOVES to talk.
    On the downside, I was a little bummed when Ellison admitted to some of his personality being schtick, but then I remembered that schtick is usually an exaggeration of the truth, so I didn't stay bummed for long. Also, there are no interviews with his wife (though she does appear in a couple of scenes) and the director doesn't delve too deeply into the writing process (though Ellison does poke fun at interviewers who ask "Where do your ideas come from?").
    If you’re a hardcore fan, I highly suggest watching the supplements/extras as there’s an elongated chat with Gaiman and a bunch of bits with Ellison reading some of his stories, which are great.
    In the end, this is a greatIy entertaining and insightful overview of the man and his mythos. Plus Ellison is immensely engaging.
    "Man, we killin' elephants in the back yard..."

    http://www.blizzardsportusa.com/

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