posted by Ian Summers on November 22nd, 2011
Coke bottle bottom eyeglasses coupled with a gray whispy Fu Manchu beard accented Lester del Rey’s persona. He was wearing Crayola burnt sienna Haband ban- rolled polyester slacks and a lime–green permanent–press leisure suit jacket. Around his neck was a bolo tie which fastened with a fixture that lit up mysteriously like a window to the cosmos. This package suggested a contemporary version of Tolkien’s wizard Gandolf. When he spoke, he blustered.
.Judy Lynn and Lester del Rey
Lester had been appointed fantasy editor of del Rey Books, a division of Ballantine Books which was a division of Random House, to complement his wife Judy Lynn Benjamin del Rey. Judy Lynn founded the del Rey imprint and was a highly respected science fiction editor turning obscure authors into giants in spite of the fact that she was a dwarf. It was she who had presented Lester with a box of freshly printed business cards which read, Lester del Rey, Expert. And he was. I was the new Art Director. It was the mid-seventies.
Lester intimidated guests regularly on one of the first all night radio talk shows hosted by Long John Nebel and his wife Candy Jones during the fifties. I would listen on my pocket sized red transistor radio with a tiny ear piece when I should have been doing my algebra homework. Lester was a science fiction writer for more years than I was alive. His first short story was published in Astounding Science Fiction in the mid-thirties. He was a frequent contributor during the Golden Age of Science Fiction. I remember seeing the credits scroll by on Captain Video, the first of televisions space odysseys about 1949. Lester del Rey was the science advisor.
A quarter century later, I stood before this great man in awe holding his business card and accepting an invitation to a meeting of the Trap Door Spider’s Society. Lester explained that the Spiders were a men’s eating. drinking and arguing club made up of thirteen old friends. A significant number, I thought. The Spiders were formed in response to one of his friends being henpecked. The men invented the club to get him out of the house once a month. Meetings were hosted in rotation. The host would select the restaurant, wine, and menu. He also had the privilege of inviting one or two guests whom he thought might be interesting to his colleagues. I was flattered and accepted.
During the next three weeks, while I waited for the event, Lester and Judy Lynn initiated me into a fantastic world of science fiction and fantasy — a world I abandoned when I was thirteen. Later we would collaborate on hundreds of science fiction paperback covers and the number one world’s best-selling calendar based upon the works of J.R. Tolkien and illustrated by Tim and Greg Hildebrandt.
My taxi pulled up in front of an unsuspecting Spanish restaurant on West Seventy-second Street. An seemingly obsequious uniformed doorman fawned over other guests while judging me for my long hair, beard, bandanna, black T-shirt , love beads, and safari jacket – the uniform of the art director. A more considerate Maitre D’ escorted me to a private dining room lit by a Marie Theresa chandelier. Waiters carried trays of hors d’oervres and drinks in Baccarat crystal.
Copytight James Randi
The James Randi Foundation
Del Rey, still dressed in stretch knit, enthusiastically introduced me to the other spiders. “Ian Summers. Issac Asimov. Ian Summers. L. Sprague Ducamp. Ian Summers. Martin Gardner.” Ian Summers met eight other luminaries consisting of more writers, editors and the Director of the Hayden Planetarium. I took a drink. Lester introduced me to another guest. “Ian Summers. Jim Randi. The Amazing Randi.” I took another drink. I met Truman Capote the day before. I met Gore Vidal that very afternoon. But these men were heroes from my childhood. Terror welled while I wondered what Lester thought might be interesting about me to this august assembly of luminaries.
Upon conclusion of dessert the waiter gracefully removed the china, poured vintage port, and lit thirteen black candles now dancing in sterling silver candelabra. The formal proceedings commenced. Amazing and I were toasted. Then Issac Asimov explained it was a Spider’s tradition to interrogate their guests. The great man leaned across the table. Bushy mutton chops illuminated by candle light framed him in his own aura. I wanted to run. I tried to make myself small, a skill developed in junior high school. Surely he would start with Jim Randi. Asimov boomed, “Ian Summers. Why do you exist?”
I took a gulp of sipping port. I was silent. I had not given the question a moments thought in my first thirty-five years. I filibustered for over thirty minutes fearing another question. I felt unworthy to be in the company of such great men. I remember thinking, “Oh my God. Issac Asimov knows my name.” I judged myself for not having the right answers — for not being good enough. I vaguely remember presenting my credentials, my accomplishments, my family and work histories. I worked hard to hold back tears.
And then, Asimov said, “Thank you Ian. That is enough. Lester will you escort Mr. Summers to the door.”
I realized I had spent most of my life as a human doing; not a human being. I did not know the difference. I tried to do exactly what well-meaning caretakers expected. I guessed at what they wanted. I guessed at what normal was and rebelled against it. I became the son I thought my parents wanted. I failed at becoming the good husband without knowing what that meant. I achieved other people’s goals and consequently I was empty. I was fear based. I would do anything to be seen. I had no idea why I existed or who I was. I kept it all to myself.
posted by Ian Summers on September 11th, 2011
What’s Your Story?
Many years ago, when the Earth was still young and we were crawling out of the primordial sludge, I was a high school art teacher. That was my first adult job. But that is another story. I had a student who always used the expression ‘What’s the story?’ as a kind of greeting. I thought he was interested in hearing my story, so I usually made some time to share stories that were sometimes real and sometimes fiction. ‘What’s the story?’ means ‘Wassup?’ in today’s vernacular.
I have written many articles about the value of storytelling in the creative process.
With the impending death of interruption advertising, consumers will be choosing when and how they receive information.Storytelling will help brands stand out and differentiate products and services to specific prospects. Agencies such as http://storyworldwide.com are hip to this and are helping their clients tell their brands’ stories.
Sometimes stories are found in our early childhood experiences. These stories often herald the person we have become. This story by the great writer Stephen King is such a story.
I invite all of my readers to contribute stories and.or photographs that represent how your earliest childhood experience may enhance an understanding of who you are and what makes you different. Your brand.
How to Tell A Story
The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty
story is French. The humorous story depends upon the manner of the
telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter… the humorous
story is strictly a work of art — high and delicate art — and only an artist can
tell it… the humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal
the fact that he dimly suspects there is something funny about it.
Multimedia is Not a Panacea!
My concern is that so many still photographers believe they ‘should’ learn multimedia as a survival action rather than having heard the calling.
Vision is a calling. A calling is an inner urge or a strong impulse, a passion, some believe a calling may be divinely inspired. How will the world
be a different place as a result of your visit on the planet? What is your calling? What is it that you feel the urge and passion to bring into being no matter what?
Stalking in Camden ME
We might have been arrested for this, but it built character.
William Kentridge – Storyteller
Artist’s Statement and Autobiographical Animated Video
Idea Stimulator – How to Tell an Infinite Number of Stories
I invented a device that force fits story elements through juxtapositions that invite innovative storytelling. This tool is revealed in its entirety. Feel free to use it whenever you desire.
The Power of Words and Pictures
Isness – The Making of a Photographic Novel
How Stavit Allweis used Kickstarter to fund her photographic novel
How Messing with Mr. In-Between Makes Gutter Talk More Interesting
How to structure a graphic novel
posted by Ian Summers on August 7th, 2011
I just received the following post from one of my favorite, passionate, compassionate, talented photojournalists, ZORIAH MILLER.. Imagine a play written about you and your work. Read this post then check out Zoriah’s work. And if you are in London get yourself a ticket to this Ice & Fire production. But you better hurry, it closes on August 13th.
On The Record – It’s Me But It’s Not?
Posted: 07 Aug 2011 01:50 AM PDT
If you happen to be in London this week I will be speaking with the highly accomplished journalist Nick Davies (famous for breaking the recent phone hacking scandal in the UK) on Monday night after the showing of On The Record. It will be my first time to see actor Trevor White portray me on stage (so this could be a great chance to see what I look like when I am completely weirded out!) Ha!
Seriously though, the play has been getting amazing reviews and the subject matter is very interesting. I will post some reviews and the press release below, for those of you that are interested.
The playwrights, Christine Bacon and Noah Birksted-Breen contacted me in early 2009 and told me about their interest in writing a play, based in part on my experiences in Iraq. We spent hours on the phone in interviews for them to get the direct quotes from which the play is primarily based. I never knew if anything would come of the project and was happy to find out that not only did they see it through but apparently they did an amazing job with the production. I look forward to seeing it on Monday the 8th and if any of you are able to join, please stick around afterwards and say hello.
From the Producers:
The Times ‘This play by Christine Bacon and Noah Birksted-Breen is a tribute to the courage, compassion and tenacity of those who unearth and report stories of real significance, often at great personal risk. Partly based on interviews with journalists, and partly dramatised, it makes gripping theatre, in a production by Michael Longhurst that is at once succinct, shocking and wryly funny … Throughout, the acting is riveting, unflashy and full of conviction, while the stories the play tells are truly humbling.’The American photo-journalist Zoriah Miller (Trevor White) maintains that in the United States censorship is rife, thanks to the power of the advertising dollar. “Nobody wants to sell a watch opposite a picture of someone dying,” he says. His images of the Iraq war are devastating; he captures them in the face of pressure from editors who want something lighter.Financial Times ‘At a time when so much of the British press appears to have been involved in crimes and corruption rather than uncovering them, this is a sobering and heartening reminder of why journalism also matters in a positive way.
Evening Standard ‘Impassioned … Director Michael Longhurst keeps up the tension throughout. A vital play for grubby times.’
The Sunday Times ‘As the phone-hacking scandal rumbles on, this reminder that journalism and integrity need not be mutually exclusive is something of a pick-me-up … The production … compresses a lot into 90 minutes as it lays out why the practice of investigative journalism matters’
Guardian ‘These people are fierce, proud and hearteningly optimistic.
Telegraph ‘Was I impressed?…Yes”
The Public Review (4.5 Stars) : “The most impressive thing of all is how this play teeters along the line between candour and good taste, showing us horrifying video images to shake us out of our comfortable, democratic cocoon without needing to push so hard that it feels like shock tactics. I often had goosebumps, and at times a lump in my throat, but mostly I felt in awe, and with a desire to find out more”
Spectator ‘On the Record is ‘an excellent, timely and unsettling play … So many plays are just circus routines or museum pieces. This is a living, breathing piece of propaganda in the best sense. It jerks us from our complacency and argues, quietly but with overwhelming force, that liberal democracy is not inherent in any community’s gene code. It has to be replanted and refreshed by each new generation.’
Metro “Warm and Witty”
The Stage : “Human rights theatre company Ice and Fire’s well-timed celebration of investigative journalism is a refreshing contrast to the daily reports of indiscriminate phone hacking recently in the news.”
The British Theatre Guide: “The acting in On The Record is impeccable throughout. Each performer gives a small masterclass in acting …The script by Christine Bacon and Noah Birksted-Breen is well paced and informative”
The Public Review : “The most impressive thing of all is how this play teeters along the line between candour and good taste, showing us horrifying video images to shake us out of our comfortable, democratic cocoon without needing to push so hard that it feels like shock tactics. I often had goosebumps, and at times a lump in my throat, but mostly I felt in awe, and with a desire to find out more”
ReviewsGate: “Theatre at its best showing journalism at its best…Michael Longhurst’s direction is exemplary… leaving the floor to six fine actors who embody their characters’ different manners and inhabit their sense of purpose without any sense of forcing personality or pleading a case…Christine Bacon, Noah Birkstead-Breen and Ice and Fire theatre’s production ensure a gripping, revelatory event”