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Brains of a Spider, the NEW blog, is updated weekly with fresh content. Follow the link.

25 June, 2018:
New Blog!

Spider will produce these discharges at intervals as irregular as he is, whenever his medication wears off.  He does actually believe several of the things he says, but some are purest mahooha, and he is utterly disinterested in discussing which ones.  Each installment is absolutely guaranteed to contain enough pixels to produce a recognizable picture of him doing something that will astonish you, if you are a fan of nano-puzzle-solving.  He likes having his work studied that closely.

07. There Really Is No Off Switch
or: I Guess It Really is Worth Eighty A Quarter

On Turner Classic as I type, taken directly from the station’s own synopsis for this film:

GOING HOLLYWOOD
Marion Davies, Bing Crosby, 1933.
Choreographed by Busby Berkeley!!!
[OK, the exclamation points are mine.  More on that later.]

A singer loves a teacher, but leaves her behind to seek fame in the movies. He succeeds, but she eventually follows him out west and becomes a star in her own right.

I have two immediate questions, that probably not many others would:

First, how good a dancer could she possibly be without her own behind, which we’re told she left to seek fame?  I mean, is that ironic, or what?  Gifts of the Magi, right?  I picture her auditioning for A Chorus Line, trying to sing, “Tits, and ass....” though clearly only half-qualified.  It adds an extra layer of poignancy, I know.  But how easy do you think it would be to find a good, trained dancer with literally no ass at all? Pretty easy, actually, now I think about it.  

And nowadays there’s always CGI.

Second, in just what sort of rite did she become a star?  Religious?  Or, uh....otherwise?  Can you make one of those movies with no ass?  (I really don’t want to know.  Please don’t send me yours.)

...Continue Reading


Where Tesla Meets Robinson....Near Callahan's Place
(all photos by John Moore)

In the first photo (#546), the buildings visible on the right, behind my brother-in-law John Moore's PT Cruiser, are all that remains today of Wardenclyffe, Nikola Tesla's laboratory in Shoreham NY, designed by Stanford White. All but invisible in the woods directly behind me is the huge circular concrete base of the 187-foot-tall tower Tesla raised for the purpose of giving free limitless electricity to the whole world--until his chief backer J.P. Morgan found out, and pulled the plug. (Perhaps one of the most apt uses ever of that particular metaphor.)

Notice the street sign in the foreground. I'm shown standing at the closest spot a civilian can now get to the surviving structures: the corner of Tesla St. and Robinson St. (See photo #551) No shit. It's within a block or two of Rte. 25-A--which is the only location I ever gave for the original Callahan's Place.

Robinson St. Tesla St.

Some, including me, believe it was with that tower, designed by White's associate W.D. Crow (which, by the way, took the best efforts of three successive demolition firms to bring down; a shitload of dynamite was required) that Tesla accidentally caused the Tunguska Event of 1908, which leveled 2,150 square kilometers of Siberian wilderness. See my CALLAHAN'S KEY for details (and see photo #553 for a better shot of the tower's base). He also designed and produced the first Tesla Turbine there, and did the first mass production of Tesla Coils.

The site was subsequently purchased by the Agfa corporation, which polluted it with photographic chemicals so horrifically that it's now a Superfund Cleanup Site, which is why it's surrounded by high chain-link with serious barbed wire on top and camera surveillance. (see photo #559)

Wardenclyffe Superfund Cleanup Site

By a coincidence even more gasp-worthy to me than the name of the nearest intersection, the Wardenclyffe property is in the path of a huge power-line right of way corridor (seen in photo #562), which was constructed for the purpose of carrying the immense amounts of electricity that were expected to be generated by the Shoreham nuclear power plant only a few miles away--which never opened, thanks in part to the efforts of my anti-nuke friends David Crosby and Graham Nash. The reactor was fired up exactly once before it was abandoned, but never produced a single watt. TWO schemes to bring almost limitless power to the Long Island/NYC area, and both of them failed utterly, the first due to greed, the second to fear. A dispiriting thing to see and contemplate....relieved only slightly by the visible presence in that power-tower corridor of cell-phone towers (see photo #565), a technology that did not fail.

power corridor cell phone tower

In photo # 579, taken from where John's car is seen parked in the first photo, you can see the back stairway on which I like to imagine Tesla used to catch a smoke between experiments.

Wardenclyffe

There are several groups presently trying to have Wardenclyffe cleaned up and turned into a museum/historic site/tourist attraction--among them the Tesla Science Center mentioned at the bottom of this webpage. Please Google them all, and support all you find worthy. A science center and museum at Wardenclyffe would be a fitting memorial for the man who invented the modern world single-handed, and got screwed out of all the money and most of the credit.

As Wikipedia notes:

Designation of the structure as a National Landmark is awaiting completion of plant decommissioning activities by its present owner. [The Agfa Corporation--SR]
In 1976, an application was filed to nominate the main building for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It failed to get approval. The Tesla Wardenclyffe Project, Inc. was established in 1994 for the purpose of seeking placement of the Wardenclyffe laboratory-office building and the Tesla tower foundation on both the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. Its mission is the preservation and adaptive reuse of Wardenclyffe, the century-old laboratory of electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla located in Shoreham, Long Island, New York. In October 1994 a second application for formal nomination was filed. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation conducted inspections and determined the facility meets New York State criteria for historic designation. A second visit was made on February 25, 2009. The site cannot be registered until it is nominated by a willing owner.

Anyway, that's how I spent (part of) my winter vacation. The first thing I intend to do when I get home in mid-January will be to record and post a new podcast for you. In the meantime, I hope you'll find these photos entertaining.


  • Spider has joined Twitter!

Follow @robinson_spider

  • Heinlein Award Spider has won the 2008 Robert A. Heinlein Award for Lifetime Excellence in Literature!

This year’s co-winners of the 2008 Robert A. Heinlein Award for Lifetime Excellence in Literature were announced at the 66th World Science Fiction Convention, Denvention 3; they are Ben Bova...and Spider Robinson.

...and more happy Heinleinian news!

Most readers who’ve responded to VARIABLE STAR by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson have expressed strong desire to know what happened next. Spider is delighted to report his agent Eleanor Wood has, in the worst times in sf publishing history, sold Tor Books not just one but three sequels to VARIABLE STAR, to be known collectively as The Orphan Stars Trilogy. For more information, listen to Spider On The Web #59.

  • Please help save Nikola Tesla's memory.

    Wardenclyffe, Nikola Tesla's only surviving labratory is currently for sale, and the owners are threatening to raze the buildings in spite of the state acknowledging their importance as an historical landmark.

    The Tesla Science Center wants to save Wardenclyffe, and turn it into the museum it should be.

    Fans of the CALLAHAN'S series know that Tesla was an important figure in Spider's heart, and he mentioned Wardenclyffe in several books beginning with CALLAHAN'S KEY. Anyone interested in preserving the memory of Tesla can make a donation to The Tesla Science Center to help save Wardenclyffe.

  • Jeanne Robinson and her co-producer/writer James Sposto have launched a website to promote the Stardance feature film project at: www.stardancemovie.com. Get the all the news and photos at the Press Room link and the blog http://stardancemovie.blogspot.com. Watch video clips of the Stardance team adventures on the December 30, 2008 flight on Zero-Gravity Corporation’s refitted 727 on the Homepage, where Jeanne put her concepts of “dance beyond the bonds of gravity” to the test.
    Stardance Experience Movie