Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bill Warren

Word is spreading that Bill Warren has died. I hardly know what to say. Bill's writing was encyclopedic in its display of knowledge, captivating and entertaining in its style, and above all voluminous, mostly on subjects on which I really had no interest. His specialty was trashy 50s skiffy films, which most of them were (50s skiffy films, I mean). He was so good on this that he's worth reading even though the movies aren't worth seeing, in fact even better than he is on the few that are worth seeing. His epic tome on this subject, Keep Watching the Skies, is two huge volumes and entirely comprehensive. I wish he'd chosen to devote more of his mighty talent to other topics.

But he and I mostly did not get along personally. He seemed to find me irritating, and I certainly found him so. I once spent an entire convention panel trying to fight off his simplistic belief that "The book is still on the shelf" is a satisfactory response to complaints about a movie adaptation. He once described in my presence a scene from an experimental movie so disgusting that I've never been able to forget it, even though I've never seen the movie. And he was my first encounter with the opinion, among people who hold that a comparison to Hitler is a Go Directly To Jail card that means you've comprehensively lost the argument, that defending the reasonableness of your position by saying "It's not like I compared you to Hitler" counts as a comparison to Hitler. (There have since been others. A couple of times since I've tested it deliberately, because I couldn't believe the response the first time.)

Regardless, his presence enriched the world, which will be a lesser place without it.

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