Wild About Harry…

We lost Harry Anderson today. He was 65. And it feels like learning about the death of an old friend.

It’s no secret to those of you who read my stuff that my life has been heavily shaped by Star Trek, Batman, Ghostbusters, The Monkees, Universal Monsters, and any of a host of other geekish passions. Harry Anderson and Night Court are also on that list, and right near the top. His portrayal of Judge Harold T. Stone — and, to a lesser degree, Harry the Hat on Cheers — were far more influential on me than I realized.

First and foremost, from Harry the Hat, I learned to always keep an eye out for a con man. If I shake with my right hand, wear my watch on and hold my wallet with my left.

From Harry Stone, I learned to always be compassionate. Always hold confidence. Be true to your friends. Be fair. Be kind.

Harry also taught me that it was okay to be silly as an adult. Harry was a sitting New York City judge who kept googly glasses and a stuffed armadillo in his chambers. He did magic tricks. Cracked jokes and made terrible puns. Upon turning 40 — a milestone I’ll hit in two months — he lamented being older than Spider-Man.

He even, you’ll recall, taught for a while at Ed Koch Community College.

Harry’s music tastes also informed mine. Though I could take or leave his idol, Mel Tormé, I have a great affinity for the great crooners — and an illogical dislike of Barry Manilow (a fact I just mentioned to my wife yesterday).

And Lord, did Harry have style. Cardigans, sport coats, ties, jeans and sneakers. And hats, of course. Harry loved his fedoras, and so do I. And, like Harry, the jewel of my collection is my Borsalino.

Harry’s characters, and his stand-up routines, and his magic tricks, meant a lot to me when I was growing up. They’re a beloved part of my past, and I look on them with fondness. They shaped my tastes, they shaped my style, and they shaped me.

Thank you for all of that, Harry. I’ll miss you.

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New Berlin Diner – Berlin, NJ

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Originally posted on Diner Nation:
Hi Everyone! Joe and I were hoping to venture into a new county but a weekend full of grandkids, teenagers and errands kept us close to home. We did however get to venture a bit…

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Silver Coin Diner – Hammonton, NJ

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Originally posted on Diner Nation:
This week, Joe and I stayed close to home and visited the Silver Coin Diner on Route 30 in Hammonton, NJ. The menu is about 7 pages including a full list of chef specialties. Honestly,…

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New Blog Post! New Book!

Good heavens… has it really been fourteen months since my last update?

Unacceptable. Simply unacceptable, Joe.

48full500At any rate, today — yes, today! — marks the release of the latest collaboration between me and the inimitable Rich Handley: Bright Eyes, Ape City: Exploring the Planet of the Apes Mythos, put out by the goodly folks at Sequart Organization.

Picking up where The Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes left off, Bright Eyes, Ape City (and boy howdy, do I love that title) covers every iteration of Apekind from the original 1963 novel to the forthcoming film, War for the Planet of the Apes. It features a foreword by David Gerrold and fantastic essays by Dave Ballard, Corinna Bechko, Stephen R. Bissette, Ian Brill, Joseph Dilworth Jr., Matthew J. Elliott, Robert Greenberger, Ed Gross, Rich Handley, Zaki Hasan, Jim Johnson, Neil Moxham, Steven J. Roby, John Roche, Paul Simpson, and Dayton Ward.

Or, as the landing page puts it:

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“A planet where apes evolved from men?”

With those horrified words, Charlton Heston’s Colonel George Taylor summed up exactly what viewers were thinking in 1968 the first time they saw Planet of the Apes in theaters. Loincloth-clad humans reduced to mute savages, living in cages or in the wild? Xenophobic orangutans, militaristic gorillas, and curious chimpanzees with a rigid class structure, Greco-Roman names, religious dogma, and the ability to speak and reason? What goes on here? It’s a madhouse!

Audiences were hooked — and they remain hooked almost five decades later. Planet of the Apes (based on Pierre Boulle’s French novel Monkey Planet) has spawned eight films, with a ninth currently in the works, as well as two television series and several novels. It’s one of the most respected franchises in pop-culture history, thanks to the talents of writers Rod Serling, Michael Wilson, Paul Dehn, John and Joyce Corrington, William Broyles Jr., Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Mark Bomback; directors Franklin J. Schaffner, Ted Post, Don Taylor, J. Lee Thompson, Tim Burton, Rupert Wyatt, and Matt Reeves; makeup artists John Chambers and Rick Baker; and a long list of beloved actors who have breathed life into some of the most memorable science-fiction characters ever to grace the large or small screen.

Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos, edited by the same team behind Sequart’s Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes, examines every Apes film, TV show, and novel, from 1968 to the present. This anthology features insightful, analytical essays about the franchise’s long history, from popular film historians, novelists, bloggers, and subject-matter experts. If you’re eager to learn more about Apes lore, then you’ll need to get your stinkin’ paws on this book.

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Rich and I are immensely proud of the work that everyone put in for this book, and would be mighty obliged if you gave it a looksee. It’s available in paperback or on Kindle!

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My Schedule for Philcon!

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From Friday, November 20 through Sunday, November 22, the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ will play host to the 78th annual convention of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society… Philcon 2015!

The goodly organizers of Philcon have once again, for reasons beyond my ken, invited me to be a guest at their annual shindig, so if you attend you get to see me.

No, wait! Come back! There are other people there, too!

But if, for some reason, you do want to pop by and say hi (Atlantic-Cape students, I — and five extra credit points — am looking at you), this is my schedule:

Friday, November 20
7:00-8:00 p.m. — Autograph Table: I’ll have copies of New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek ComicsThe Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the ApesGotham City 14 Miles, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a few copies of A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe. Come by, buy a copy, and get a signature for free! Or stop by and say hi, and get an autograph on anything you’ve got for free! Unless you’re a process server. Then I ain’t signing a thing. Barring that, though, just stop by. Please. And bring coffee.

Saturday, November 21
1:00-2:00 p.m. in Plaza IV — USING LANGUAGE CREATIVELY (2126)
Panelists: A.T. Greenblatt (mod), Christie Meierz, Lawrence M. Schoen, Joseph Berenato, L Hunter Cassells
From Hemingway’s spareness to Lovecraftian atmospheric density to Chandleresque similes, there are a variety of ways language can be used to enhance the worlds you write. How do language and syntax choices affect the way a story is perceived?

5:00-6:00 p.m. in Plaza II — THINGS YOU SHOULD READ (BUT DON’T KNOW ABOUT YET) (2226)
Panelists: Fran Wilde (mod), Dena Heilik, Joseph Berenato, Alex Shvartsman
Not every amazing book is a best-seller. Whether it’s an unsung classic or a recent author, come talk about the fiction you’ve found that, strangely, nobody else seems to be talking about.

Sunday, November 22
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. in Crystal Ballroom Three –THE CHANGING FACE OF PUBLISHING (2123)
Panelists: Sally Wiener Grotta (mod), Russ Colchamiro, Joseph Berenato, Ian Randal Strock, Alex Shvartsman
How is it moving away from the conventional New York publishing scene? There are so many alternatives today (Crowd-sourcing, small presses, independent publishers and non-print electronics) Will the big publishers be left in the lurch?

1:00-2:00 p.m. in Plaza V (Five) — FANS, FICTION, AND THE FORMATIVE YEARS (2076)
Panelists: Lynati  (mod), Tony Finan, Victoria Janssen, Joseph Berenato
What stories made you first realize something new about yourself? When mainstream media doesn’t depict the kind of person you are, where do you turn to find characters you identify with?

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So there you have it. That’s where you’ll find me next weekend. On top of that, I’ll be sure to be floating around the con floor, so if you see me don’t be afraid to approach. I probably won’t bite. Unless I haven’t had coffee. Then I might. So maybe you might want to have some extra with you, just in case.

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A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe: It’s really a real book! Today!

Source: A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe: It’s really a real book! Today!

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The Sacred Scrolls – Your Key to the Planet of the Apes Comics

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I am a child of the 1970s, and like owning a vinyl copy of Frampton Comes Alive!, an Evel Knievel stunt set, and a Farrah Fawcett poster – being a fan of Planet of the Apes was mandatory. I love the Planet of the Apes, and so did everyone my age. Imagine the thrill for a comics geek like me when I found out about Planet of the Apes comic books. Now there’s a book from Sequart that examines those comics, meet me after the jump when I take a look at The Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes.

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