Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy birthday, Rod Serling.

My personal writing hero, Rod Serling, was born on Christmas Day in 1924 in Syracuse, New York. Creator of The Twilight Zone and winner of six Emmys, he was the gifted screenwriter on Patterns, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Seven Days in May, and Planet of the Apes. He died during a coronary bypass operation in 1975.

Stephen King, sadly, is dismissive of The Twilight Zone in Danse Macabre, but I admire TZ's tight structure (I think the half-hour programs are better than the one-hour ones), writing (in addition to Serling, Richard Matheson, George Clayton Johnson, Charles Beaumont, Earl Hamner), acting, and twist endings. Here's how one teacher uses TZ in his classes. Serling had a distinguished teaching career at Ithaca College in New York, which honors him with a biennial conference. The Rod Serling Foundation is lobbying to put Serling on a U.S. postage stamp.
Be prepared to seek out the middle ground ... that wondrous and very difficult-to-find Valhalla where man can look to both sides and see the errant truths that exist on both sides. If you must swing left or you must swing right—respect the other side. Honor the motives that come from the other side. Argue, debate, rebut—but don't close those wondrous minds of yours to opposition.
—Rod Serling, Binghamton HS Commencement speech, 1968

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