January 1st, 2020
Dr. Evil Fairy Consults at U.N.C.L.E. HQ
This journal is friends locked. Sorry, but I don't want my blog entries ending up on those blog collection sites. I talk about communication, popular culture, metafandom, media, Man From U.N.C.L.E. and occasionally, some personal stuff. If you want to read this LJ, feel free to friend me but please introduce yourself first. I usually friend back.
The links to all my fan fiction can be found here but some require friending to read.
December 24th, 2013
December 7th, 2013
My son's university chorale performed on Thursday night. Here's the finale. He's the blond guy in the middle right in front of the conductor.
November 22nd, 2013
RV is 81 this year: hard to believe!
This year, he's in London doing "Twelve Angry Men," but in 2009, I was able to attend his birthday celebration. For those who missed it or wish to revisit, the entries are tagged "rv dinner." You can find them all here
Happy Birthday, Mr. Vaughn! Here's to many more!
November 14th, 2013
As I do unilaterally every year [except last year because of Superstorm Sandy] on this particular weekend in November [yes, the week of my own birthday ---deal] I am declaring the Ninth annual "Thank You For the Stories" Weekend.
Our fandom has survived nearly 50 years now and there's a new movie on the horizon.
And what has sustained us all these years? What is the life blood of this --or any--fandom?
The fanfic. The stories. Always, the stories.
If that movie is successful, the folks at the WB should probably send residual checks to all the fan writers who kept the damn property alive for half a century. Because, without the fan writers and the fanfic, MFU conceivably would have been long dead and forgotten. But it's not, as the folks at Time/Life discovered with their best selling and award-winning DVD set.
The story of Solo and Kuryakin and the mythical organization they work for continues to be retold again and again. Every day.
So we need to keep the writers writing---and keep in mind, there are new ones on the way! --- and the best way is to send feedback. Good, thoughtful feedback. It doesn't have to be entirely positive. In fact, writers love to have discussions.
So, this weekend, pick out three of your favorite writers, a few new ones, perhaps, as well as those who you've probably been reading for years. Both could use a little support now and then. Send them a private note telling them you’re out there. Just that. Even if you’ve never, ever done it before. Even if you write yourself. (And YES, if you’re reading this, I mean YOU).
Consider it "Thank You For the Stories Weekend." It should take you all of fifteen minutes to send three emails. If you have more time, write to five writers instead of three. It doesn’t have to be a long note. Don’t know what to say? Simply say hi. You might comment on a specific story but in general, just thank them for the hard, uncompensated work they’re doing, the pleasure they’ve shared, the fact that they’ve kept Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin and the dream that is U.N.C.L.E. alive and well.
So I’d like to take the opportunity right now to say, personally, thanks to all the wonderful cousins who keep all our communities going and make it possible for all writers, both new and old, to share their work. Considering how old we are, the fact that we have new communities and new writers appearing all the time is a miracle. For what else is writing and reading but a kind of dialogue and so many stories begin with a conversation.?
And finally, thanks to all my fellow writers and also anyone who has produced a web page, drabble, poem, story, puzzle, contest, rec, review, challenge, vid, icon, illo, graphic for MFU over the past year. Your contributions guarantee that the MFU community will continue to exist.
So, thanks everyone! Here's to us!
Psst: Pass it on.
October 25th, 2013
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
For those who may have wondered why this LJ is named for St. Crispin's:
"The Fraternal Order of St. Crispin" was formed by U.N.C.L.E.'s original thirteen field agents in January 1946. The name was derived from the king's famous soliloquy in Shakespeare's "Henry V." When female agents were accepted into the ranks of Enforcement in 1965, the name was changed to the "St. Crispin's Day Society," by which it is still known today.
"The St. Crispin's Day Society has no formal internal structure. No officers are elected. No dues are levied. No meetings are held. However, there are local groups of retired agents who get together regularly, usually about once a year. Favored dates are the second weekend in January; October 25, the feast of the martyred saints, Crispin and Crispian, and the Wednesday before Easter, commonly known as "Spy Wednesday," the day Judas betrayed Christ. The Society also maintains several charitable funds for disabled field agents and for the widows and children of agents killed in the line of duty. Contributions are strictly voluntary.
Although the existence of the society is well-known within the espionage community, the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement officially disavows any recognition, association or approval. Indeed, over the years, the Command's administration has actively tried to discourage membership, with extremely limited success.
All enforcement agents who work in the field are automatically eligible to join the society. (Agents from other sections of the organization must be invited.) With rare exceptions, membership among operatives in Sections Two and Three is universal.
Induction traditionally occurs on the eve of graduation, at the U.N.C.L.E. survival school. While the details of the initiation ceremony are a closely-guarded secret, society members can be recognized by a hair-line scar that parallels the lifeline of their right hand.
is the story that started it all.
October 14th, 2013
September 22nd, 2013
Forty-nine years ago tonight, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. premiered.
The rest, as they say, is history.
September 19th, 2013
He's 80. Wow! Does time fly!
But still looking good! Happy birthday to the man who gave us Ducky and Illya!
September 5th, 2013
I have been following all the news about the new movie avidly I've also been reading Bill K's speculations on the HMSS blog.
I really don't have a problem with an origin story. Most folks who will come to this movie haven't a clue about what U.N.C.L.E. was [my students certainly wouldn't] And the concept of U.N.C.L.E. ---spies ---of all people! --- working together is a novel one, even for today. Not just novel, but I'd argue revolutionary. Norman and Sam were prescient in looking ahead to a post-Cold War world in which the real threat was global terrorism further fueled by elitists with resources and money who were after power. I watch the news these days and I think 'Thrush' all the time.
That said, some younger folks who didn't live through the Cold War would have a hard time grasping the the fantasy of an American and a Soviet working together [Didn't those US and the USSR want to bomb each other? they'll think] others will not understand the overall significance [and American and a Russian? So what?] Still others may see it in light of the Snowden case.
So an origin story that explains the political situation of the time and the revolutionary idea of and American and a Soviet working together and someone [Waverly?] putting together a global initiative that rose above petty politics seems like a good idea to me. It will capture audiences' imaginations as it did ours back in the day. Further, it will eliminate any misperceptions that apparently still linger that Illya was somehow a defector. Even fans misinterpreted this because the TV show could not spell it out and some paperback writers didn't see or read through the development notes. An origin story will eliminate any misperceptions.
And as I've pointed out previously, even though the filmmakers need pay no attention to fanfic [and presumably they won't if only to avoid lawsuits] anyone embarking on an an in-depth exploration of an U.N.C.L.E. universe will eventually find themselves having to describe the origins and include a 'first meeting' story. I know this happened to me. I know it wasn't necessary back in 1960s TV, but storytelling in movies and especially, because of cable TV, is more serial, and so it's a necessary part of the creative process today.
So, I admit to being actually encouraged by the reports and details I'm hearing. It seems the filmmakers are taking some care and they're not just making one knock-off and taking the money and running as they did with Wild Wild West and others. This is obviously meant to be a franchise and they seem to understand a potentially valuable one.
As Craig Henderson has pointed out over the years, it's wasn't Trek. It was MFU that came first. My book, which was just published, argues that case.
So perhaps, finally, MFU will be counted among the other huge more modern franchises ---Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter and the like ---and take it's rightful place in modern popular culture.
August 12th, 2013
One Very “Cool” Show
“Television Will Change Totall
For three days in April of 1966, a conference on “The Meaning of Commercial Television” was held at Asilomar California (Donner 1967). Over fifty people attended including faculty members from Stanford University and the University of Texas, advertising agency executives, representatives of major sponsors such Xerox, Pepsi-Cola and General Motors and, of course, those who worked in the broadcasting industry. This latter group included not only independent producers but network executives as well, including the presidents of all three major networks of the time, C. Wrede Petersmeyer of CBS, Don Durgin of NBC and Thomas W. Moore of ABC.
The stated aim of the conference was the “improvement of television” and it was actually the second in a series of three conferences funded by TV Guide. The program began on a Sunday night with the usual welcoming addresses, and was followed all day Monday by presentations and panels. And then, on Monday night, Marshall McLuhan delivered a keynote speech entitled, “Television in a New Light.”
That year, arguably, McLuhan was at the peak of his fame. His groundbreaking work, Understanding Media had appeared two years before, and an advertising man, Howard Gossage, had introduced the University of Toronto professor to the United States the year after. By the end of 1966, well over 100 articles on McLuhan would appear in publications throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. (Wolfe, 2005; Willmott, 2010).
Most notable among them was Tom Wolfe’s “What If He’s Right?” appearing in New York magazine in November, 1965, which established McLuhan as a public intellectual and someone worth listening to (Strate, 1996). Wrote Wolfe with barely contained enthusiasm:
There were many of studs of the business world, breakfast-food- package designers, television-network creative department vice presidents, advertising “media reps,” lighting-fixture fortune heirs, patents lawyers, industrial spies, we-need-vision board chairmen, all sorts of business studs as I say, wondering if McLuhan was … right (Wolfe, 1968, p. 109)
That Monday night, the attendees of the Asilomar conference were probably wondering the same thing. They were also aware of McLuhan’s reputation for being “cryptic” and “Delphian” as Wolfe and others had described him, a “pop guru,” and McLuhan did not disappoint. Using Bonanza as an example, he observed how watching it made viewers feel “safe” because Bonanza was not really part of our present environment, but of the past. The broadcast executives could not have been very happy hearing that a show, which was, at the time, ranked number one in the Nielsen ratings (Brooks and Marsh, 2007) was already obsolete.
There was more. McLuhan pointed out that the next generation was growing up in an electronic “all-at-once-world.” Linearity was disappearing. Space and time were becoming “simultaneous.” Society was fragmenting, detribalizing. McLuhan described a new electronic informational environment in which readers move “into” a book and viewers “become” the screen, an environment in which nobody has a private identity, style is way of seeing, the ad is more important than the product it’s selling, and a television audience creates rather than merely consumes. “Television,” he said, “will change totally, just as advertising is going to change, just as work is changing.” (McLuhan, 1967).
Ever since Wired magazine dubbed McLuhan its patron saint (Levinson, 1999), it has become far easier to interpret and understand what McLuhan predicted in terms of the digital revolution. Cyberspace, social media, I-Pads, the importance of brands over products, and the production and distribution of fan-created works — all anticipated in that Monday night keynote address — are now part of everyday life. The “global village” has become cliché.
In the published version of the conference edited by Stanley Donner (1967), the discussion section that follows the transcript of McLuhan’s speech observes that although members of the audience were interested, they were not quite sure how to react. Frankly, the write-up seems a bit too polite. Only a few of the question and answer exchanges that followed are recounted, but reading through them, one does get a sense of bewilderment, as if the attendees were thinking not only “What if he’s right?” but “What is he talking about?”
The outspoken Paul Klein, NBC vice president of audience measurement and an admirer of McLuhan’s work, remembered that most of his colleagues of that era were largely unimpressed (Marchand, 1989). After the conference, Time and TV Guide reported that executives at CBS and ABC dismissed McLuhan’s ideas as “an amalgam of camp and voodoo” (“Getting the message,” 1967) and “glib double-talk” (Frank, 1967).
Some at NBC and NBC’s frequent studio partner, MGM, however, were intrigued. In addition to Klein, MGM’s television sales coordinator, Herman Keld, wrestled with the possible implications of style triumphing over content, non-linear story-telling, and viewers’ active fantasy involvement, both in private internal memos (H. Keld, personal communication, December 21, 1966; January 30, 1967) and in media interviews (“Getting the message,” 1967; Frank, 1967).
The subject of those memos and interviews was a television show that had many of the qualities that McLuhan was describing. It had premiered on NBC the same year as Understanding Media was published. In the same month that the conference was held, the series was posting its highest ratings yet. True, according to the Nielsen ratings, it was not as popular as the network’s number one long-running champ, Bonanza, but that was largely because this newer series attracted a far different audience, one that was largely young people. Probably not by coincidence, the producer of that show was also an attendee of the Asilomar conference. His name was Norman Felton, an independent producer who headed his own company, Arena Productions. The series, which would entertain a generation, influence dozens of other television series, films, advertising campaigns and even comic books, and most importantly, plant the seed for the development of an active collaborative audience that would grow into Media Fandom, was called The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Television, indeed, was changing. Unbeknownst to many in attendance at the Asilomar conference, the future had already arrived.
August 9th, 2013
June 29th, 2013
Interview with Armie Hammer Current Mood:
For the linkaphobic:
Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill are two of the hottest actors at the moment and they will be starring together in The Man From U.N.C.L.E..
The hunky pair has never met, but in a recent interview Armie Hammer, whose film The Lone Ranger is scheduled to open next week, said he is excited to meet Henry.
The movie will be directed by Guy Ritchie and is a remake of a television series with the same name which starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as evil-fighting agents.
Armie plays David’s character, Illya Kuryakin, a Russian spy while Henry landed Robert’s role, Napoleon Solo, after Tom Cruise had to step down due to a conflict in his schedule.
“I would have loved to work with Tom, but at the same time, I’m also excited to do it with Henry, because it adds a different twist to the movie.” Armie Hammer said in the interview.
At the time of the interview, Armie had not met Henry and stated that he was very excited to do so and about what Cavill would bring to the movie after the success of Man of Steel.
“I’m excited about meeting both of them,” said Hammer. “Hopefully, I’ll get to meet David while making the movie. We start shooting in August.”
Armie talks about how he is getting ready to play the Russian agent:
“I’m also very excited about playing a Russian,” he adds. “I’m in the middle of my research phase now. I’m studying the political climate during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was a fascinating time globally. It’s such a great script (by Scott Z. Burns), and it’s so funny! Guy Ritchie has such a great take on it.”
May 31st, 2013
Paula Smith says hi.
Paula sells MFU buttons.
Funniest button of the con.
A couple of con attendees
The weekend and the days following, I haven’t had enough hours together to be able to post this. It was hard to find time running back and forth between hotels too, so, sorry it’s a little late but here’s the rest of my MWC report.
I spent Saturday morning at a Denny’s breakfast with mamacat1715
. It was so good to see her again and I was sorry to see her go. We talked a lot this weekend, catching up over a couple of years. Social media is fine but for those of us of an older generation, it just can’t completely replace face to face.
After that, the weekend was pretty much about panels. My Saturday workshop went great! You would think after 23 or so years, no one would care any more. But we had a good crowd and not only did I bring handouts, but one of the audience members had a projector! So, I was able to put my Powerpoint up on the wall. I think we all appreciated the visual support. Later, I was the only one to volunteer for a research panel, but our small group formed a circle and discussed some very good and interesting resources for fan writers.
On Sunday, I went to mass with Mary who usually makes the arrangements. New hotel meant new church but this one seemed a nice, friendly congregation as well. I was back in plenty of time to make myself a sandwich from the salvaged cold cuts that froze in the refrigerator on Friday when I set the temp too high. Then, it was time for my workshop for advanced writers. Not only did everyone from yesterday come back, but they brought along even more people! We had the projector again as well so that was great too! Four hours of workshops and I think folks would have stayed even longer if the time slot allowed it! I had fun; I think the audience did too.
I also shared a panel on social media and that was interesting because there was such diversity among the audience members in their online experiences. One guy said he was contemplating getting an FB, but he’d only read fanfic in print so far.
Saturday and Sunday nights I went out to dinner at Finley’s with the members of the Orphan Zine table and they were a good talkative group. It was interesting to have lengthy conversations with folks I’ve seen over the years but not really known well. The manager of Finley’s was super friendly and told us how his restaurant competed with the Finley’s near our old hotel.
Apparently, the folks at this new Finley’s was thrilled they now had a Memorial weekend crowd and were taunting their colleagues across town about getting the business.
Sunday night was the annual art auction. As it turned out, the picture of Frank Langella as Dracula by Karen Rivers that I wanted was part of an estate of a deceased fan. So, all I had to do was buy it and not have to bid on it. Dinner ran late so I missed half of the auction which was woefully short. What used to last until 2 a.m. was now done by 8:30 p.m.
That was true of most of the con, too. The dealer’s room was less than half the usual size. I have no idea about the attendance numbers, which actually seemed to be higher than in 2012. But it seems that the newer fandoms are mostly online and I especially missed hanging out with the MFU crowd. Some folks even commented that our fandom, which used to be a major presence complete with logo shirts and jackets, was missing.
On Monday, after a Cracker Barrel breakfast, Pauline and Sandy drove me back to the airport. I hadn’t slept very well the night before and I napped in the backseat. The flight arrived on time and I even managed to stuff all my artwork and t-shirts and stuff into my suitcase. So, even though the overheads were small, somehow it fit. I paid an extra $10 to Delta for early boarding too, which was worth it.
I was home by suppertime and spent the next day and night washing and packing my suitcase yet again. On Wednesday morning, my husband and son hit the road for this year’s Rollercoaster Road Trip. They plan to drive south and hit three parks: Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, King’s Dominion and Six Flags Atlanta. I must attend three days of work-related workshops to be certified for classes I already teach [don’t ask; it’s complicated] so I won’t catch up with them until next Monday. That day, I’ll fly to Disney where we have a suite again at the Wilderness Lodge.
For the time being, my husband is texting me about their adventures and I’m sharing my bed with my lonely cats. I'll post some photos in my next entry.
And may I add: it's a real pain to cut and paste a post onto LJ these days. Damn.