Today Is The Anniversary Of The Birth Of Dennis Potter

May 17, 2007

Dennis Christopher George Potter: 17 May 1935–7 June 1994

Dennis Potter TSD

When Potter discussed his work at the National Film Theatre immediately after the first showing of Rain on the Roof, a member of the audience questioned him about the conclusion of the play:

QUESTIONER: I felt that the husband’s death came rather abruptly . . . lf I’d been the producer of that play . . . my inclination would have been to say to you, ‘This text is incomplete, there ought to be more work on it, I ought to know more about this character, the husband.’ What would have been your reaction as a writer if I’d presented it back to you and asked you to do more work on it?

POTTER: I think I would have told you to fuck off.

— Dennis Potter: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter; pg. 388

What’s that you say?

Who is Dennis Potter?

In the pantheon of immortal television dramatists, there are only three:

Rod Serling
Paddy Chayefksy
Dennis Potter

And of these three, Potter is the greatest. Serling and Chayefsky would have bowed down to his accomplishments.

No, don’t take my word for it.

Experience Dennis Potter for yourself through the incredible generosity of YouTube:

BBC Close Up – Dennis Potter 1
BBC Close Up – Dennis Potter 2
BBC Close Up – Dennis Potter 3
BBC Close Up – Dennis Potter 4

BBC Close Up, featuring the life/works of Dennis Potter

Dennis Potter Interviewed by Alan Yentob

Interviews of this standard are rare these days. Alan Yentob is a class act, allowing Potter to speak (which many didnt) and it makes for fantastic viewing.

Dennis Potter on the experience of watching television

Taken from BBC Four’s ‘Arena: Potter on TV,’ 2005.

Dennis Potter Points of View

An old episode of Points of View in which Potter’s recently broadcast The Singing Detective receives comments from viewers. I dont actually like the format of the program, and watching it, seeing how dated it is(was maybe?) does make me squirm in my seat a little. Anyway, enjoy.

And now, prepare to have your brain totally seared. This is the complete original UK broadcast of Dennis Potter’s legendary play, Brimstone and Treacle. You will have never seen anything like this in your entire life, nor will you ever see its like again (at least not on TV!).

Credits from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter One).
Which One? from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Two).
Mr Tom Bates from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Three).
Far Far Away from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Four).
Eyes Like… from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Five).
Old Black Magic from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Six).
Morning from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Seven).
Horn & Tail from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Eight).
Cinnamon And Spice from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Nine)
Prayers from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Ten).
Dinner from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Eleven).
England Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Twelve).
Accepting Evil from Brimstone and Treacle (Chapter Thirteen)

Previous mentions of Dennis Potter in this blog:
The Greatest TV. Ever.

Just Read & Now Reading

May 17, 2007

Just Read:

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi

Now Reading:

West of Rome by John Fante

That contrast is soooo unfair to Scalzi. Suck it up, kid!

Warren Ellis Speaks Truth!

May 17, 2007


They want to remake The Long Good Friday.


If you are one of the culturally deprived who has never seen this — I saw it at its NYC premiere, appropriately held on Good Friday! — get your ass to YouTube. Here’s the search result.

There is no other actor who could pull off what Bob Hoskins does in his final ride (note: this is a major spoiler! Do Not View unless you’ve already seen the movie!). Christ, what acting!

Note: That clip is choppy for me in YouTube. YMMV. But I suggest, for Firefoxers, using Download Helper to put it on your desktop and then viewing it with vlc. It will then play smoothly. You mustn’t miss a single nuance of Hoskins!

How Long Before Nielsen Sticks Its Snout In This?

May 17, 2007

BitTorrent in Focus: TV-series are Hot

Almost 50% of all people using BitTorrent at any given point in time do this to download TV-series, while only 10% of the available torrents are TV related. People who download TV-shows also have one of the best share ratios, only Anime fanatics beat them.

Previously in this blog:
P2P Category

Junkiness: Evil Laugh Of The Day

May 17, 2007

Dennis Franz Run Over by Steamroller

YouTube: Review Of Sony’s iPod Contender

May 17, 2007

Review Sony A800 by — YouTube video

Review of the new mp3 player Sony NW-A800 by

Yes, I know I said I wouldn’t link to a tech review.

This one is different.

It’s video and it’s basically silent (except for an irritating music track).

It’s not really a review even though that’s its title. It’s basically a video tour of the device, showing off its features. No narration, no conclusion.

What’s problematic is that all of the on-screen text on the Sony device is in French! However, by paying attention you can make out what’s going on.

Previously in this blog:
More On That Tiny Sony Video Walkman
Does Sony Have An iPod Nano Killer Here?

Peter Beagle: Nebula Award Win

May 17, 2007

From an email received today:

Beagle Nebula


Despite his absolute certainty that he would not win — no way, no how — Peter walked away from last Saturday night’s annual SFWA Awards Banquet with a Nebula for “Two Hearts” in the Best Novelette category, matching his Hugo Award win for the same story last year.

The evening started inauspiciously. First, track repairs on the nearest subway line turned what should have been a simple trip to the ceremony hotel into a complex, breathless, and ultimately footsore obstacle course. There is nothing quite like rushing through endless blocks of downtown Manhattan in shoes designed mainly to be looked at. Then, at the banquet itself, Peter discovered that a production/layout snafu had accidentally removed all mention of both him and “Two Hearts” from the big “Meet the Nebula Nominees” article in the latest issue of the SFWA Bulletin, which was one of the freebies at every table place (along with a cute little foam rubber robot tagged with the SFWA logo). It was clear that the Gods were either angry or else bent on excessive irony.

But as you can see from the picture, it turned out to be a pretty good night for Peter after all.

It was also a good night for some people whom Peter likes to work with: Gordon Van Gelder, editor of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, and Jacob Weisman, owner of Tachyon Publications. Gordon saw two of the stories that he published win Nebulas (“Two Hearts” and Elizabeth Hand’s “Echo”), while Jacob gets the bragging rights that go with being the guy who asked James Patrick Kelly to write his novella “Burn” — the story which finally won James a Nebula after nine previous nominations.

Peter’s personal thoughts on winning will be in the next RAVEN. His head is spinning too wildly just now to write them down.



Everything in-house is now done on these long-delayed projects, and they are ready to go to the various printers, replicators, and binderies involved in turning the files into finished products. We had hoped to have that part done already, so that they would ship in April or May, but there is one more hurdle to jump.

Since Peter’s problem is the cause of this last delay, here is Peter himself to make everything clear:

“Some of you already know that my mother, Rebecca Soyer Beagle, died last June at the age of 100. While one can always hope that the legal and financial processes unavoidably triggered by someone’s death will go smoothly, too often they don’t. This is what happened with my mother’s estate. Indeed, the problems I have been facing proved so complexly tangled that I was, in every practical way, overwhelmed. A few months ago things were so bad that it seemed inevitable that my mother’s house was about to be lost to foreclosure. This would have left me without a roof over my head, as I’ve been living in the house since late 2001, when I moved to Oakland in order to take full-time care of my mother.

“The house was eventually saved, but only because several people moved heaven and significant pieces of earth to make it possible…and most particularly because Connor Cochran graciously applied money of his own to cover parts of the necessary juggling act.

“Actions have consequences. In this case, Connor’s helping me had the unintended side-effect of delaying the manufacturing of the LAST UNICORN audiobook and the hardcover collector’s edition of TWO HEARTS. Why? Because to solve my personal problem Connor had to use money that he had set aside to cover the gap between actual manufacturing costs and what has so far come in through customer orders.

“Thankfully this last delay that my problem has created should be relatively short. Connor is replacing the needed funds from other sources, and I’m doing my best to return his extraordinary favor by doing a few things which should help speed up the process. When we are done, those of you who have been so patient — and I am grateful to every one of you — will get the items you’ve been waiting for. Signing them before they ship will be a real pleasure, knowing as I do what they (and you) have made possible.


Peter S. Beagle”



When Peter was 19 years old, he wrote his first novel. (“Which just goes to show,” he often points out, “what you can accomplish if you don’t have a social life.”) The book — inspired by growing up next to Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx — was called The Dark City. Peter’s agent submitted it to the Viking Press, which bought the book and published it in 1961 as A Fine and Private Place. The new title was the contribution of the book’s editor, Marshall Best. He had been reading poetry to his wife, and decided that certain lines from Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” fit Peter’s novel perfectly: The grave’s a fine and private place/But none, I think, do there embrace. He also edited the book with a demanding intensity rarely seen today, arguing endlessly with Peter over points great and points subtle until he felt the novel was as strong as it could be. (One argument he won required the removal of an entire subplot, four whole chapters’ worth, an edit Peter protested at the time but now firmly agrees with.)

First novels by young writers usually appear and vanish without a trace. Those that do make an initial mark are often reconsidered and demoted later, with the perspective of additional time, or else are never followed by further work of the same quality or significance.

A Fine and Private Place is an exception to these accepted rules of thumb. The book was recognized as an emotional masterpiece on arrival and has continued to garner accolades for 46 years. As to what came afterward…well, everyone getting this newsletter already knows the answer to that question.

But not everyone who gets this newsletter has read A Fine and Private Place. For too much of its history this wonderful, moving novel has been in the hands of a publishing house that did nothing to promote it. Three years ago they finally abandoned it entirely, letting the title go out of print.

Thankfully Tachyon Publications (the local San Francisco company behind Peter’s collections The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche and The Line Between) has stepped up to the plate, with a brilliant new trade paperback edition that is shipping right now.

What makes this new edition special?

It contains the definitive text of Peter’s premiere novel. This is a first — the original 1961 Viking hardcover was marred by multiple typos and a lot of copyeditor mistakes, errors which have been faithfully reproduced in every subsequent edition until now. For Tachyon’s release, Peter and Connor went over the book line by line, fixing everything. The difference is only around 400 or 500 words, total, but every single repair was necessary: A Fine and Private Place is finally the book that Peter and Marshall Best originally intended it to be.

The beautiful photographic cover design by Ann Monn is the best cover the book has ever had in the United States. To create it, Ann actually traveled all the way from Los Angeles to the Bronx, where she spent three days walking the vast reaches of Woodlawn Cemetery, camera in hand, taking pictures of the exact same tombstones, mausoleums, and vistas that inspired Peter back when he was 19 years old. While there she collected an amazing collection of images, three of which were selected for the final composition. (To see a large image of the complete wraparound cover, click […] here.)

Tachyon’s production values. The high-quality printing, paper, and binding are all superb.

The novel itself, of course, which really is a masterpiece. It’s amazing that anyone could write this book, let alone a 19 year-old. (To read the first chapter, click here.)

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading A Fine and Private Place, by all means indulge yourself. An amazing cast awaits your discovery: Jonathan Rebeck, who has lived in a cemetery for 19 years, and has the gift of being able to see and talk with ghosts…Michael Morgan and Laura Durand, whose lives and deaths were so very different, yet so very much the same…Gertrude Klapper, widow, a 50-something force of nature in a flowered hat…and of course the raucous, cynical talking Raven from whom this newsletter draws its name. Enjoy!

You can buy the new edition of A Fine and Private Place right now from Amazon, or get a personally autographed copy from Conlan Press.

The above is from an newsletter infrequently sent out:

THE RAVEN is a free email newsletter dedicated to Peter S. Beagle and his work. It comes out whenever Peter has news worth sharing. Please send any comments, questions, suggestions, or news to either or

Get on the mailing list!

Dammit! I’m so pissed at myself. In a previous email, Beagle invited everyone to meet him in Central Park last Sunday for a picnic. I bollixed the date, thinking it was this coming Sunday. Eejit me!

Congratulations on the award, Peter!

Previously in this blog:
Help Out Someone Being Crushed By MammothMedia!

Another Reminder Why I Don’t Have Comments Here

May 17, 2007

I Own a Number (Part II)

Jim Henson Pre-Icky Fame YouTube Video

May 17, 2007

I liked Jim Henson as a puppeteer before Sesame Street and before (ugh!) The Muppet Show.

The daily newsletter reminded me why with a YouTube clip that looks like it was filched from the classic Ed Sullivan Show.

Henson died May 16, 1990.

Hypercasting & Hyperdistribution

May 17, 2007

YouTube video:

What is Hyperdistribution?

Promo recorded for the Hyperdistribution Master Class at 2006’s Sydney Film Festival.

Hypercasting: Part One – “The Story So Far”
Hypercasting: Part Two – “Stupid is the New Black”
Hypercasting: Part Three – “The Epidemiology of Cool”
Hypercasting: Part Four – “That’s Show Business!”

Keynote address to DIGIMART 2006, via iChat from my Sydney flat to Ex-Centris in Montreal. The talk covers the changes in video distribution, and, in particular, YouTube.