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Saturday, July 5, 2014

"It's... it's a cookbook!"

Ah, the Fourth of July.

Independence Day.  A where we celebrate our love for our country, where we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  It is a day that is marked by time-honored celebration, where we indulge our love for the things that are so incredibly American.  Such as:

Recreational explosives.


Apple pie.


And Twilight Zone Marathons.

Since I was a kid, I had a fascination for reruns of The Twilight Zone. Summer nights routinely had me staying up late to watch the episodes at 2 and 3 in the morning on WPIX.  That was back before the CW ran it, back before the WB ran it.  I could watch that show anytime, anywhere.  To date there isn't an episode of the original 1956 series that I haven't seen at least once.

Imagine my glee when, at 10 years old, WPIX announced the first 12-hour Twilight Zone marathon.  It's rare on a summer day when a kid wants to stay inside, especially in a New York City summer with no air conditioning.  But on that first 4th of July marathon, I wasn't going anywhere.  Up at 7 to watch "Time Enough at Last," done at 7 with "Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."  I became familiar with old actors unburdened from classic roles, like Burgess Meredith not playing Mick from Rocky, or William Shatner as someone other than James T. Kirk.  Jack Klugman was not Oscar Madison (The Odd Couple), and he was alongside Jonathan Winters.

Mostly though, the draw for me was the storytelling.  A lot of my early writing hinged heavily on slightly supernatural plots, science fiction and twist endings, and that is all stuff I attribute to watching this genius show.  It's creator, Rod Serling, was one of the master storytellers of his day.  His writing credit appears on such classic episodes as "I Shot An Arrow Into The Air," and his iconic deadpan delivery of the shows monologues are hallmarks of that show.  A lot of that found its way into my writing as a teenager and some still filters through today.

As a matter of fact, the title of this post, if you are uninitiated, is one of the series most quoted lines, from the episode "To Serve Man."

So, I leave you today, to visit a dimension not of sight or sound, but of mind. A dimension where the only limits we know are the limits of imagination.  A dimension called...

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