Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Newsflash - Gene Patents Ruled Invalid

On Monday March 29 United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet ruled that seven patents held by the biotech company Myriad Genetics were invalid. The patents involved two genes considered to be factors in breast cancer.

News stories:
New York Times


Wall Street Journal

The judge’s 152-page decision

Michael Crichton called for an end to patenting genes in the “Author’s Note” from his novel Next. He mentioned this biotech company:
Gene patents are bad public policy. We have ample evidence that they hurt patient care and suppress research. When Myriad patented two breast cancer genes, they charged nearly three thousand dollars for the test, even though the cost to create a gene test is nothing like the cost to develop a drug. Not surprisingly, the European patent office revoked that patent on a technicality. The Canadian government announced that it would conduct gene tests without paying for the patent.

Crichton published two op-eds in the New York Times on the topic of gene patents:

This Essay Breaks the Law
March 19, 2006

Patenting Life
February 13, 2007

Somewhere, Michael Crichton is smiling. (Again)

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Interview – “Travels of Michael Crichton”

I just discovered these amazing articles on Michael Crichton. Janet Berliner interviewed Michael Crichton for a week in December 1993. She has recently posted these articles about the interviews. There are many great quotes from Michael Crichton that I’ve never read before. This is such a treat! A huge “Thank You” to Janet Berliner!

Crichton Author’s Note
By Janet Berliner, February 26th, 2009

On Writing and Influences: A Snippet from Crichton on Crichton
By Janet Berliner, February 26th, 2010

The Travels of Michael Crichton
By Janet Berliner, March 26th, 2010

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Michael Crichton’s Recommended Reading

Many people visit this blog because, like me, they love Michael Crichton’s books. But what books did Michael Crichton himself love? What books did he recommend? What books influenced the way he wrote?

From a 2005 Barnes & Noble interview:
(Click on the “Meet the Writer” tab)

BN: What was the book that most influenced your life or your career as a writer?

MC: Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles was the first novel I read as a young person, that I genuinely enjoyed. (I was plowing my way through the classics at the time, and Lorna Doone wasn't doing much for me.) I subsequently read all the Holmes stories, and later in life went back to study them, to see how Conan Doyle had moved his narratives forward so quickly. In fact, his techniques are quite cinematic.

In a June 8, 1969 interview with the New York Times, Crichton cited Len Deighton’s novel The Ipcress File as a major influence on his 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain (Crichton’s first novel published under his own name):

I picked up The Ipcress File,” he recalled, “and was terrifically impressed with it. A lot of ‘Andromeda’ is traceable to ‘Ipcress,’ in terms of trying to create an imaginary world using recognizable techniques and real people.

In the 2005 Barnes & Noble interview, Crichton, when asked about his ten favorite books, named:

• George Orwell, Collected Essays -- He is my favorite writer, and I read him as a teenager because my father admired him a lot. From Orwell, I got an insight into an independent mind and I emulated him.

• Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi -- Making art out of life, blurring the lines of fiction and nonfiction. And of course funny.

• Witter Bynner, Tao Te Ching -- This is my preferred translation of this classic, which influenced me very much in my approach to life.

• Robert Louis Stevenson, The Black Arrow -- Actually, I recommend anything by Stevenson. This particular novel must be the source for about 50 movie clich├ęs for any period story. It's great fun.

• Ken Wilbur, No Boundary -- The first of his books I ever read, and I have read almost all of them. He's brilliant.

• Alejo Carpentier, The Lost Steps -- I regard this as a man's novel, about manhood. And rare for that.

• Mary Midgeley, anything by her -- I find her the one of the most interesting contemporary philosophers because she works with real-life issues. And she is especially interesting about science: Evolution as Religion, Beast and Man, Wickedness, and so on.

• Graham Greene, The End of the Affair -- Again, art into life. A classic in some ways disagreeable and even repellent, but for me mysterious in its impact, and unforgettable.

• Ram Dass, Be Here Now -- A very important book for me at a troubled time in my life. I wrote about why in a book of my own called Travels.

• James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks -- a children's book.

In the June 3, 2007 New York Times Sunday Book Review, a survey “Read Any Good Books Lately?” featured celebrities giving their recommendations.

Michael Crichton’s response:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The second volume by the author of Fooled by Randomness continues his theme — our blindness to the randomness of life — in an even more provocative, wide-ranging and amusing mode. A book that is both entertaining and difficult.

P. K. Feyerabend, Problems of Empiricism: Philosophical Papers, Volume 2. From 1981, a brisk reminder that the conflicts of contemporary science are not in any way new or unique. The author is reviled in many quarters, mostly by those who have not read him. He is invariably provocative.

Anthony Bourdain, Bone in the Throat. Wonderful fun, a perfect book to read at the beach.

Look for these books and many others at your local library! Ask your librarian about interlibrary loan for books you can’t find at your local library.

Crichton was himself a big supporter of libraries. When he died in November 2008, a librarian from Bedford, New York, where Crichton used to live, remembered his generosity:

…Librarian Ann Cloonan, director of the Bedford Village Free Library, said she recalls hearing he was a big library supporter in communities where he has lived. He was known for generously donating funds and his time. When Bedford Village, for example, planned a building expansion more than a decade ago, Cloonan, says that staff recalls that he spoke at the library during a capital campaign fund-raiser.

And here are some photos from a February 2003 event where Michael Crichton read from his book Prey to benefit the Los Angeles Public Library Foundation.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Photos of Crichton’s Jasper Johns covers

Michael Crichton’s official website has recently added photos of the front and back covers of both the 1977 edition and the 1994 edition of Crichton’s book on Jasper Johns.

The 1977 edition cover is actually one big painting that wraps around the spine of the book and extends to the back cover. The information on inside of the dust cover lists the painting as UNTITLED (1977), but at a 2007 exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, the painting’s title is given as Savarin (1977)

The 1994 edition’s front cover shows Johns’ Summer (1985), and the painting on the back cover is Untitled (1991)

Related Posts:

More Works from Crichton’s Art Collection to be Auctioned Off

The Four Paintings from Crichton’s Collection

Paintings from Crichton’s Art Collection to be Auctioned Off

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Sunday, March 14, 2010

More Works from Crichton’s Art Collection to be Auctioned Off

In a March 2, 2010 press release Christie’s announced that more works from Michael Crichton’s art collection are going to be auctioned off. A public exhibition of 50 of these works was on display at Christie’s Los Angeles Galleries from March 5 through March 12. The exhibit included works by Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Claes Oldenburg, Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and David Hockney. (The press release contains images of eight of the works from Crichton’s collection.)

Photos of the exhibit can be viewed at Christie's Press Preview and “Michael Crichton Knows Art”.

Brett Gorvy, Deputy Chairman of Christie's Americas, said in the press release:
“Michael was the rarest breed of collector: a Renaissance man in every sense, whose passion for art was fueled by his search for answers to the basic tenets of art. In the same way Michael challenged accepted scientific dogma, he continually challenged his own understanding of an artist or work of art. He became intimate friends with artists and responded as a creative equal to their own searches and challenges.”

One of Crichton’s friendships was with David Hockney, who made a portrait of Crichton in 1976. The portrait was sold at auction for $650 in 2004.

Christie's spokesperson Sung-Hee Park, quoted in an article by Lee Rosenbaum, said the Crichton consignment consists of about 97 works---approximately 30 in the May evening contemporary sale; 48 grouped in their own section of the May day sale for less important contemporary works; 14 in the Apr. 26 prints sale; 5 in the Apr. 15 photographs sale.

According to a Los Angeles Times article, the 97 pieces to be auctioned off “represent approximately 80% of Crichton's art collection.”

Related Posts:
Paintings from Crichton’s Art Collection to be Auctioned Off

The Four Paintings from Crichton’s Collection

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Four Paintings from Crichton’s Collection

As I noted on in my Feb. 8 post, four paintings from Michael Crichton’s collection are going to be auctioned off at Christies in New York on May 11. The four paintings are:

Flag by Jasper Johns (1960-66)

Femme et Filettes (Woman and Children) by Pablo Picasso (1961)

Studio Painting (Combine) by Robert Rauschenberg (1960-61)

Girl in Water by Roy Lichtenstein (1965)

All of the paintings can be seen along with an article at the Italian art website Art Economy 24. The article can be read in the original Italian or in an English translation.
(Scroll down to the bottom to see the four paintings from Crichton’s collection)

In an article about the auction, Crichton is quoted:
I never really cared whether a particular piece was major or minor, typical or atypical of the artist’s work, or whether the artist was fully or thinly represented in my collection,” Crichton wrote. “I just bought images that I enjoyed looking at, and in the end, that is the only significance that I attach to them. I feel fortunate to have been able to live with the works.

A spokesperson for the Crichton family stated (in the same article):

“Michael was a visionary. He loved art and treasured his relationships with artists. It is a very difficult decision to sell works that have had such a personal place in his world. We are confident that the auctions and exhibitions at Christie’s will commemorate Michael’s eye and deep passion for art.”

This photo from the Architectural Digest July 2002 issue shows Jasper Johns’ Flag hanging in the library of Crichton’s Bedford, New York home. In other photos from the article (not available online), Picasso’s Femme et Filettes (Woman and Children) is seen on a wall in Crichton’s living room, and Lichtenstein’s Girl in Water is visible on the wall of the hallway opposite the master bedroom door.

An April 1998 article in Architectural Digest focused on Crichton’s Los Angeles home and contains this quote from Crichton:

“Art should be looked at when you want to look at it…I have enough demands on my life without a painting requiring my attention when I come home.”

Related Posts:
Paintings from Crichton’s Art Collection to be Auctioned Off

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner