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Michael Crichton, Coronavirus, and How Often One Should Wash a Tee Shirt

jcbruceI started my day thinking about Michael Crichton, tee shirts, movies, and pandemics—all of which sloshed together in my dawn-thirty, pre-coffee semi-consciousness.

Michael Crichton because when I dragged a random tee shirt out of the closet, it turned out to be the black and white “WRITER” shirt that I scored at Warner Brothers studios in Los Angeles. I had a day of writing ahead of me. What better shirt than that?

Okay, the shirt was from a movie studio. That would explain why I was thinking about motion pictures. But why Michael Crichton?

Because I always think of him when I throw this shirt on. It’s the one shirt I would wear if I went on a two-week writing binge and didn’t change my clothes.

And why would I do that?

Because Michael Crichton did. I read an interview with him eons ago in which he talked about holing up for a couple of weeks to put the finishing touches on a novel. And that as part of a hugely rigid routine, he wore the same shirt every day and ate the same meals each day until the project was done.

Not that he was superstitious or anything.

I’ve often thought about that as a writerly strategy. Lock yourself away until the work is done. Make yourself do it.

And maybe you can get away with that in California, like Crichton did, but after walking the dogs twice a day in 90 degree heat here in Florida, no way am I re-wearing the same shirt day after day without a thorough washing.

But if I did, what better tee shirt to wear than one that spelled out WRITER? And since we’re practicing social distancing–in essence, isolating ourselves like Crichton did–maybe I should give it a try. At least that was my early-morning thought.

Which also reminded me that Crichton’s first big hit was a book and later a movie entitled The Andromeda Strain. It was about a satellite that fell to earth covered in extraterrestrial cooties—a rapidly mutating virus of sorts—killing nearly everyone in a nearby town where it crash landed. A team of scientists in a secret underground lab had to figure out what made this mysterious organism tick before all life on earth was imperiled.

Certainly resonates right now, doesn’t it?

As my morning coffee brewed I recalled the amazing movies based on Crichton’s books—Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Timeline, Congo, and the rest.

Which led me to wonder where Crichton might rank in terms of writers whose books have been made into movies.

He’s up there, I discovered. And that quick bit of research on the internet also revealed several other interesting articles that I’ll share here.

the andromeda evolutionFirst, I should confess that when I went to the official Michael Crichton website, I spotted an ad for The Andromeda Evolution, a sequel to the original written by Daniel H. Wilson, released in November 2019, just two months before the coronavirus epidemic began making worldwide headlines.

Even though he has left us, Crichton still seems to be a step ahead of everyone else, predicting global calamities even from the afterlife.

I used the term confess, because as a longtime Crichton fan, I’ve read all his books and thought I was caught up. So this was a big oops, and I instantly downloaded it to my Kindle, not willing to wait for a paper copy to start reading. I’m reading it now. In fact, had to tear myself away to pound this out.

I also discovered numerous interesting articles related to Crichton and movies and writers whose works have been made into movies.

Who are the authors whose works have been most adapted by the silver screen? The list, unsurprisingly, begins with William Shakespeare. Others making the top ten list include Dickens, Chekov, Dumas and Arthur Conan Doyle, who, frankly, I thought would have ranked a little higher with all the Sherlock Homes adaptations over the years.

You can see the entire list here:

Interested in a listing of Crichton’s books, including those written as John Lange? Here’s the link for you:

Here’s a fascinating Vanity Fair article entitled “When Michael Crichton Reigned over Pop Culture, from ER to Jurassic Park”:

And since we’re writing about writers and movies, here a list of the fifteen greatest movies about writing. Or at least one highly subjective take on the subject:


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