Some time between junior high and high school, I developed a strategy of telling stories at lunch time to members of the football team . . . and breaking the stories in half, the Scheherazade technique. This had a delightful result in that when bullies came after me, the football players would say, “Leave the little brother alone!” And that, of course, anchored additional pleasure to story-telling.

My mom signed me up for a class in laser technology at the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry. As terrific as the class was, I enjoyed wandering around the closed museum, opening odd doors even more. In some of them were stacks of old magazines, and I remember thumbing through old copies of Life magazine. Along with 1930s patent medicine ads, I remember cigarette commercials proclaiming that their products were actually healthy for you, that they “soothed the Y-Zone” in your throat. I remember that every time I hear someone suggest that unregulated capitalism will save us. My father eventually died because ads like that did everything they could to convince you that tobacco was benign. If there is a single group of human beings in the world I hold in lowest esteem, it would probably be tobacco executives.

And people who think unregulated capitalism will save us.

In junior high my love of science fiction was more deeply cemented, and with members of the journalism staff, including a kid named Jeffrey Johnson and a pretty thing named Patricia Butler (who had received her hormonal gifts before most of her fellows, to spectacular effect), we formed a science fiction club called “Foundation,” in tribute to Isaac Asimov’s trilogy. About this time I also started a fanzine called “Monolith,” dedicated to my all-time favorite film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. (more…)