Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C Clarke Dies at Age 90

If you were to ask somebody for the A, B, C's of science fiction, chances are the three names you'd most likely get would be Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke.

Asimov passed away in 1992, and now another of the big three has passed, as we have lost Arthur C Clarke.

The world would probably best know him as the author of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film that probably perplexed most of them as much as it perplexed me the first time I saw it as a junior in high school--reading the book a dozen or so years later, it made infinitely more sense.

Among science fiction readers, he's probably best known for his short stories--particularly, "The Star," and "The Nine Billion Names of God." My mother teaches American Literature to college students who aren't native English speakers. When I ask people for suggestions for good science fiction stories to use in class, those two inevitably get mentioned, which would be great if Clarke hadn't been British (Perhaps she'll have to wait for her semesters at Cambridge).

More details and links at Locus Online.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dan Harlan's Official Statement

Since I posted about Dan Harlan being arrested, I felt obligated to post his official statement regarding the incident, which I thought was candid and insightful.

Although I try to keep my personal life separate from my public life, that is no longer possible. In a way, that's good. I am going through a frightening and challenging time and I know I can't face it alone. Regarding the incident in question, I have no memory of it. I began that evening drinking at a local bar and I ended that evening in jail. The last thing I remember was singing karaoke, doing a little magic and everybody buying drinks for me... then I woke up being rolled into the hospital, bloody, handcuffed to the gurney, surrounded by doctors, nurses, and the police. Then I passed out again. Imagine yourself in my position. I doubt you can... but if you can, perhaps you'll understand why I've decided to seek help for my alcoholism.

I have officially bottomed-out. I know I have a problem, because this is what it took for me to admit it. I have a lifetime filled with loss and regret. I started drinking when I was 9 years old. I drank heavily throughout Middle and High School, and constantly my first, and only, semester in college. I've nearly killed myself numerous times, I've ruined all my relationships, and I've lost everything good I've ever had. But I never asked for help. Fortunately for everyone I've known, I'm not violent, just stupid. However, I never thought I was capable of something as ridiculous as what happened that night. It frightens me to think of what might happen if I continue to drink myself blind. I'm thankful that no one, except me, was physically injured. I am in the process of recovery and attempting to "put things right."

I have not had any alcohol since then, and I plan to abstain in the future. My lawyer has spoken with the bar owner who is "heartbroken" over the incident and sympathetic. I never intended to cause any harm, but I know that I acted irresponsibly. The court date has not yet been set, and I have no idea what penalty may be imposed. In Ohio, voluntary intoxication is not a defense. I'm sorry it had to come to this before I was able to admit that I have a problem, and that I need help. I know that I have the love, understanding and support of my family and friends.

I'd also like to make one more thing perfectly clear. We have many young magicians just getting into magic due to its current popularity and I don't want any of them to think that my drinking has helped my creativity and success. It has not. In fact, it has kept me from achieving the personal and professional success I had always hoped to have. I have done all of my best work sober. I wish I had been able to enjoy it and build upon it, but I foolishly threw it all away. I'm hoping it's not too late for me to create a personal life which can serve as a good example for everyone.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dan Harlan Arrested

So the headline is, "Man Loses Pants During Bar Heist." It's complete with a photo of how his mug ended up after his wardrobe malfunction led to a face-plant.

What the headline doesn't make clear, is that the "Man" in the quote is Dan Harlan, the magician.

Now nobody's ever going to say Dan Harlan is their favorite magician, and he's probably as famous for his haircuts as he is for his magic, but he's most famous for is inventing a trick involving a deck of cards with a little flip book on the back of it called "Card-toon." You can see video of it here.

Nearly every magician who was practicing magic around the time this thing came out bought one of these, and it's probably among the most recognizable trick decks on the planet.

Seriously, I feel bad for the guy. He sounds like he's in a tough place in his life right now, and I don't wish that on anybody.

But I think the take home lesson--and one that I particularly needed today--is that even if your ship has come in, it doesn't mean your ship has come in. Sometimes life is way more about how you're living it than it is about what you think you've acheived.