Following my husband's death in 2008, I moved from Tennessee to Florida to look after my parents. Now I'm living in a retirement community, making friends and trying new things. The most fun I've had has been ballroom dancing. So far, I've taken intro lessons in all the dances and now I'm starting intermediate. I hardly have time to read anymore but I manage four or five dances a week!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dreams With Sharp Teeth

Last night I watched the documentary, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, about Harlan Ellison, an iconoclastic science fiction/fantasy writer.  Wow!  He may now be in his 70's but he's still an angry SOB.  Wikipedia describes him as "argumentative and contentious ... and a dust jacket from one of Ellison's own books includes a passage that described him as 'possibly the most contentious person on Earth.' " Injustices and stupidity still send him over the top.  I'm quite surprised his heart hasn't just burst from all the pressure.  Of course, he doesn't hold anything back, so maybe venting works for him.  I just watched him in amazement that he could get so worked up over so many things.  It was entertaining to watch but I can't imagine actually being around someone like that.  

I can't say I'm a fan of his but one of the anthologies he edited, Again Dangerous Visions, had quite an impact on my view of the world.  He didn't write any of the stories, but he challenged the writers to go beyond all boundaries ... and boy they sure did.  Ellison doesn't do happy endings and given his frustration with the world around him, I'm not surprised.  

He sees writing as a job just like any other.  Once he was given a sealed envelope which he opened at a bookstore one morning.  His typewriter was set up in the display window and his challenge was to write a story based on the few words Tom Brokaw had written inside that envelope.  Five hours later, the story was finished while people watched.  I don't know how good the story was but Ellison is a perfectionist so my guess is it satisfied him or he wouldn't have stopped.  

He has written screenplays for Outer Limits, Star Trek and was a consultant on Babylon 5 (which I though was a brilliant show).  He's had a long association with Hollywood although it hasn't been pleasurable for him.  No one seems able to translate his vision of his stories to the screen to his satisfaction.  No surprise.  Those of us who love to read are seldom pleased with the results when a book is made into a movie.

I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary about Harlan Ellison.  He's brilliant and irritating, funny (although he may not always intend to be), a really fiesty bantam rooster.  I strongly urge everyone to buy the DVD, he's worth watching more than once.

No comments: