Tribute to Ray Bradbury

The American fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction writer Ray Bradbury was born August 22, 1920. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451  and for the science fiction and horror stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man , Bradbury was one of the most celebrated 20th-century American writers. Many of Bradbury’s works have been adapted into television shows or films, he is credited with writing 27 novels and over 600 short stories, and More than eight million copies of his works, published in over 36 languages, have been sold around the world

Throughout his youth Bradbury was an avid reader and writer. He knew as a young boy that he was “going into one of the arts.” Bradbury was drawing, acting and writing. In 1932, one of Bradbury’s earliest influences was Edgar Allan Poe. At age twelve, Bradbury began writing traditional horror stories and said he tried to imitate Poe until he was about eighteen. At the time, his favorites were also Edgar Rice Burroughs and John Carter as well as comic books. He listened to the radio show Chandu the Magician, and when the show went off the air every night he would sit and write the entire script from memory. In his youth, he spent much time  reading such authors as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, He loved Burroughs’ The Warlord of Mars so much that at the age of 12 he wrote his own sequel. The young Bradbury also was a cartoonist and loved to illustrate. He wrote about Tarzan and drew his own Sunday panels. Bradbury claimed a wide variety of influences from Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Aldous Huxley, to Thomas Wolfe. He attended Los Angeles High School and was active in both the Poetry Club and the Drama club, continuing plans to become an actor but becoming serious about his writing as his high school years progressed. Bradbury graduated from Los Angeles High School, where he took poetry classes and short story writing courses where the teachers recognized his talent and furthered his interest in writing.

When he was seventeen, Bradbury read stories published in Astounding Science Fiction, and said he read everything by Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and the early writings of Theodore Sturgeon and A.E. Van Vogt, but cited H.G. Wells and Jules Verne as his big science fiction influences. In 1936, Ray Bradbury discovered a handbill promoting meetings of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. Thrilled to find there were others with his interests, at the age of sixteen Bradbury joined a weekly Thursday-night conclave. Soon Bradbury began submitting his short stories for publication. After a rejection notice from the pulp magazine Weird Tales, Bradbury submitted to other magazines.

During World War Two Ray Bradbury started a career in writing after, he was rejected by the military during World War II. Having been inspired by science fiction heroes like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, Bradbury began to publish science fiction stories in fanzines, he was also invited to attend meetings of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, which met in downtown Los Angeles. His first published story was “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma”, which appeared in the fanzine Imagination! in January, 1938. Bradbury’s first paid piece, “Pendulum,” written with Henry Hasse, was published in the pulp magazine Super Science Stories in November 1941,and he also published “The Lake”, and became a full-time writer by the end of 1942. His first collection of short stories, Dark Carnival, was published in 1947, Bradbury’s short stories, “Homecoming'” was also spotted and subsequently published in Madamoiselle magazine where it won a place in The O. Henry Prize Stories of 1947, Bradbury also wrote his classic story of a dystopian book-burning future, The Fireman, which was later published under the name, Fahrenheit 451.

Besides his fiction work, Bradbury wrote many short essays on the arts and culture, and In the 1980s, Bradbury concentrated on detective fiction. Several comic book writers have also adapted Bradbury’s stories. Particularly noted among these were EC Comics’ line of horror and science-fiction comics, which often featured Bradbury’s name on the cover announcing that one story in that issue would be an adaptation of his work. The comics featuring Bradbury’s stories included Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Crime Suspenstories, Haunt of Fear and others. Bradbury sadly passed away on June 5th, 2012 after a lengthy illness however  he remained an enthusiastic playwright throughout his life and left a rich theatrical and literary legacy, indeed his obituary stated that Bradbury was “the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream.”

Grateful Dead

Donna Godchaux, American singer with the Grateful Dead was born 22nd August 1947,  formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Graetful dead were known for their unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long musical improvisation. “Their music,” writes Lenny Kaye, “touches on ground that most other groups don’t even know exists.” These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world.” They were ranked 57th in the issue The Greatest Artists of all Time by Rolling Stone magazine. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and their Barton Hall Concert at Cornell University was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

The founding members of the Grateful Dead were Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (guitar, vocals), Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (keyboards, harmonica, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), and Bill Kreutzmann (drums). Lesh was the last member to join the Warlocks before they became the Grateful Dead; he replaced Dana Morgan Jr., who had played bass for a few gigs. With the exception of McKernan, who died in 1973, the core of the band stayed together for its entire 30-year history.Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia were brought together by Gert Chiarito in 1964 to perform on The Midnight Special. The Grateful Dead began their career as the Warlocks, a group formed in early 1965 from the remnants of a  jug band called Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, although The band changed its name after finding out that another band of the same name had signed a recording contract. The name “Grateful Dead” was chosen from a dictionary, The definition being that there was “the soul of a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, as an act of charity, arranged their burial.”

One of the group’s earliest major performances in 1967 was at the Avalon Ballroom by the San Francisco Hare Krishna temple. The Grateful Dead performed at the event along with the Hare Krishna founder Bhaktivedanta Swami, poet Allen Ginsberg, bands Moby Grape and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, donating proceeds to the Krishna temple. The band’s first LP, The Grateful Dead, was released in 1967. 1970 included tour dates in New Orleans, Louisiana, where the band performed at The Warehouse for two nights. Mickey Hart quit the Grateful Dead in February 1971, leaving Kreutzmann once again as the sole percussionist. Hart rejoined the Grateful Dead for good in October 1974. Tom “TC” Constanten was added as a second keyboardist from 1968 to 1970, while Pigpen also played various percussion instruments and sang. Following the Grateful Dead’s “Europe ’72″ tour, Pigpen’s health had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer tour with the band. His final concert appearance was June 17, 1972 at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles;] he died in March, 1973 of complications from alcohol abuse. The Grateful Dead formed their own record group, Grateful Dead Records & Later that year, they released their next studio album, the jazz influenced Wake of the Flood. It became their biggest commercial success thus far.During the late 1970s the band went back to the studio, and the next year released another album, Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel. Not long after that album’s release however, the Grateful Dead decided to take a hiatus from live touring so that its members could focus on their solo careers. This hiatus was short lived, though, as they resumed touring in 1976, and released another album Terrapin Station in 1977.

During the 1980s the bands sound transformed. Sadly though Garcia’s health began to decline. His drug habits caused him to lose his liveliness on stage. After kicking his drug habit in 1985, he slipped into a diabetic coma for several days in July 1986. After he recovered, the band released In the Dark in 1987, which resulted as their best selling studio album release, and also produced their only top-10 chart single, Touch of Grey.. Inspired by Garcia’s improved health and a successful album, the band’s energy and chemistry peaked in the late 1980s and 1990. Performances were vigorous and as a result, every show exceeded its maximum audience capacity. The band’s “high time” came to a sudden halt when Mydland died after the summer tour in 1990. So Vince Welnick, joined on keyboards and vocals and Bruce Hornsby joined the band as the pianist and vocals on September 15, 1990.

The fans of the Grateful Dead, some of whom followed the band from concert to concert for years, are known as “Deadheads” and are known for their dedication to the band’s music. From 2003 to 2009 former members of the Grateful Dead, along with other musicians, toured as The Dead and The Other Ones. There are many contemporary incarnations of the Dead, with the most prominent touring acts being Furthur and Phil Lesh & Friends and although Jerry Carcia passed away in 1995, the music lives on.

D1062 Western Courier

This is my 1062nd post so I thought I would post a picture of 1062 Western Courier. 1062 Western Courier is one of 74 class 52 Diesel Hydraulic Western Class locomotives which were originally built at Swindon and Crewe by the Western Region. They were to be named, and the names all began with ‘Western’. The second of the two words were emotive and evocative words, resulting in such names as Western Enterprise, Western Pioneer, Western Campaigner, Western Challenger, Western Champion, Western Ambassador’ and Western Glory.

The Western Region chose a mainly diesel-hydraulic design path, drawing considerably on the experience of German railways. Built between 1962 and 1964 ,British Rail (BR) assigned Class 52 to the class of 74 large Type 4 2,700hp diesel-hydraulic locomotives built for the Western Region of British Railways between 1961 and 1964. All were given two-word names, the first word being Western; thus the type became known as Westerns

Sadly most were withdrawn between 1973 and 1977, Western Champion, 1013 Western Ranger, Western Lady and 1062 Western Courier are among the few that are left and it seems amazing to think that they have now spent longer in Preservation running on Heritage Lines than they did in active service and judging by the popularity of the ‘Westerns’ during their last years of service they  enjoy almost a cult following.

Ennis the Menace

After wowing the world with her incredible athletic feats in the Heptathlon, Gold medal winning Heptathlete Jessica Ennis has  been awarded the ultimate accolade and been immortalised as a naughty Beano character named ‘Ennis the Menace’, and has now turned her attention to causing havoc- even giving troublesome Dennis a run for his money. The athletic superstar competes in the ‘Menace Heptathlon’ and is seen hurling tomatoes about while boasting to The Beano’s main character Dennis that he is no match for her in the naughty stakes. Her Olympic outing has also inspired other long-term characters in the issue. Dennis’ pet dog Gnasher is seen on the front cover mimicking gold medal sprinter Usain Bolt’s signature pointing pose.(Bolt also celebrated his 26th birthday recently on the 21st August).

Jessica is not the only famous face in this week’s comic – she is joined by fashion presenter Gok Wan who has given two characters a shocking makeover, they joins a long role call of famous people who have graced the comic’s pages, including England all-rounder Stuart Board, boxer Amir Khan, football player Michael Owen, and rugby player Lawrence Dallaglio, who were all given the cartoon makeover for a special sporty edition in 2010 to encourage children to take part in Sport Relief. Her appearance comes as The Beano’s fellow comic, The Dandy, looks set to face closure.The final printed issue of the UK’s longest-running children’s comic will be released on its 75th birthday in December, however the comic will still be available online and there are ‘exciting plans in the pipeline’ to take it in a ‘different direction’.