Visited this afternoon with my good friend Ray Bradbury at his home — what a marvelous time! Ray’s turning 91 on August 22, so I brought him an early birthday present, a DVD of the restored METROPOLIS, with thirty minutes of additional scenes lost for over 80 years. Ray told me how he first met its director Fritz Lang when Lang visited Ray’s home in 1947. They were friends for many years and Lang took Ray on the set during the filming on a number of his films, including RANCHO NOTORIOUS, where Ray met Marlene Dietrich. I asked Ray if Lang was autocratic. “No,” Ray said, “he was very friendly.”
Ray has a new book of short stories coming out soon from his publisher HarperCollins, and we talked about that. I also mentioned I’d recently won the Saturn Award, which Ray won some years ago. “It’s better than an Oscar,” Ray said, “because neither of us will win an Oscar, but this is from those who really appreciate our work.”
I told Ray the documentary about me and the Table I run was almost finished, and what a singular and odd experience it was to have someone following me with a camera. I also told him of how my MAGIC TIME trilogy of novels was progressing as a web series. I told him, “I just follow your example — film, TV, books, doing it all.”
I brought along three books for Ray to sign — the first British edition of DANDELION WINE, the first edition of A MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY, and 13 FOR CORWIN, an appreciation of writer Norman Corwin, which included an introduction by Ray. Corwin, a famed writer for radio and film (including LUST FOR LIFE) has been a great mentor and friend to both Ray and me — and amazingly, he’s still with us at 107!
After signing the books, Ray asked me to read aloud one of his short stories from MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY, so I read “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” a very moving Civil War story. What an incredible honor to be reading one of Ray’s stories to him!
I then told Ray I’d recently been videotaped for the BECKINFIELD website talking to actors, in which I quoted something Ray had often said to me, “Jump off a cliff and build your wings on the way down!” Ray was so moved that I was quoting him. “Bless you!” he said, clasping my hand warmly.
I also mentioned that I’d recently met a young poet and told her of Ray’s success in writing poetry, to not give up on that form. Again, he was glad to hear this. He also told me one of his novels is about to go before the cameras (can’t say which one, as it may not have been officially announced yet). Not bad to have a book coming out and a movie of your work shooting at 91! (There’s also a project I’m hoping to do with Ray; a company has expressed interest — we’ll see how it progresses.)
I mentioned to Ray that I’m finally reading Sam Weller’s fine biography of him. I was particularly fascinated by the part detailing Ray’s childhood and early adult years, and how he fashioned himself as a writer. Incredibly inspiring.
As I left, Ray waved and called out, “I love you!” “I love you too, Ray,” I called back.
Another fine day… such a great soul to spend time with.
Driving home, I thought of a birthday card I want to make for Ray. On the cover it will say, “I JUST DREW A PICTURE OF RAY BRADBURY.” Opening it, the page will say, “HERE IT IS:” above a big red heart.
All good thoughts your way,