This week in Literature and Arts

Remembering the great Ray Bradbury, who passed June 5, 2012. Five years gone.

Visited Ray’s grave in Los Angeles last summer.

Happy 100th birthday to Dean Martin, born Dino Paul Crocetti in Steubenville, OH, June 7, 1917. I don’t know if he truly drank that much or it was part of his shtick, but watching his TV show back in the day no one ever seemed to be having a better time doing anything than him.

One of the most remarkable things about Dean is that when breaking up with Jerry Lewis, entertainment insiders predicted he was committing career suicide, that in a year he’d be back in Steubenville pumping gas—a guy with those looks, the Italian charm, and that voice! Unbelievable.

Happy birthday, Dino!

My fellow monster kids let us remember Christopher Lee, who passed two years ago today (June 7, 2015). The man was simply loads of fun to watch and menacing even in old age in the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars prequels.

June 8, 1949: Publisher Secker & Warburg release George Orwell’s 1984. Now we’re watching Big Brother!

June 9, 1915: Les Paul is born Lester William Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin. His mom’s family owned the Blatz Beer brewery (it even sounds like swill) and made Stutz motorcars.

As a kid, Les had both a propensity for music, taking naturally to several instruments, as well as inventing. Wanting to accompany himself on harmonica while playing piano or guitar, he invented that neck thingie that holds the harmonica in front of your face while leaving your hands free. His design is what Dylan and numerous other guys have used since.

While working on what became his signature electric guitar (he used boards with radio and phonograph equipment), Les nearly electrocuted himself.

Was having a chatroom conversation about Adam West’s passing with some younger guys, who while saddened by his loss, didn’t understand why West was so beloved.

I was five years old when the Batman TV show debuted. Most of you guys grew up watching it in reruns when it was on every day, but back then it aired—I think—twice a week (?). You can’t believe what a big deal this show was then. Today, there’s a glut of superheroes on screens great and small (too many now) and endless cons celebrating comics and supers, but back then we had the old George Reeves Superman reruns and that was it. When Batman debuted it was like a gift from heaven.

Also, this was just a few years after the Cuban Missile Crises, the president assassinated, the 6 o’clock news opening every night with the American death toll in Vietnam, Civil Rights riots, and turmoil and chaos on every doorstep. For small kids (and I’m sure for many adults as well) it was a very frightening time. This show came around when we needed something good, something fun, something hopeful, and this did the trick. Yeah, it was corny, campy, etc., etc., etc., but when it was dark and the bad guys were all around, Batman was there.

And 88 years is a good long run, and the man worked right up until the end, and everywhere he went people told him from their hearts what he’d meant to them. That can’t be bad.

Rest easy, Adam. The once and future Batman.

Michael Rogers ( is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.