Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
11/08/19 -- Vol. 38, No. 19, Whole Number 2092

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Memory (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        IN MY ROOM and THE QUIET EARTH (film comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        MOBY DICK (1930) (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        Spam Email (letter of comment by the folks at
        This Week's Reading (MOBY DICK [book and TV movie])
                (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Memory (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

Are other people like me in that they are not a whole lot like
anyone else?  I don't mean just little things.  I have always felt
through my life that I was a great deal different from just about
everybody else I know and that I have to work like the devil to
cover that fact up.  I read somewhere that there was a woman who
was a fairly good mathematician.  When she died in the autopsy they
discovered that she had some sort of serious brain condition that
usually leaves people mentally retarded.  I think she was
hydrocephalous--she had water on the brain.  The doctors were at a
loss to know how her brain could function at normal levels at all.
So she was not functioning with the same brain capacity other
people had.  Now when this happens the brain can to some degree
compensate.  In this case it compensated so well that surpassed
normal brain functioning, or at least average brain functioning.
She did not even know her brain was not functioning in the normal
manner.  I mean what did she have to compare it with?  Her brain
functioned the way it always worked for her so she didn't even know
her brain was missing a chunk of its capacity.

But might that not be true of more of us?  I have often thought
that I might possibly be like that woman since I have never felt a
lot like other people.  Not that it bothered me a whole lot.  Not
when you consider that the alternatives are either that there would
be a lot of people like me or I would have to be like a lot of
other people.  No offense, World, but neither of those alternatives
sounded very good to me.  But my view of the world, after all, is
just a collection of senses and brain functions and many of those
sensory inputs and functions are not what I would like.  People who
know me well know that I really have to compensate for a really bad
memory--or at any rate a quirky one.  You know the sort of thing
"My phone number.  Oh, yes, it's...  No wait, what is it?" It will
have completely dropped from my memory or gone under cover
someplace.  People look at me like I am crazy to not know my own
phone number.  Then five minutes later I will suddenly realize what
my phone number is and it will be back like second nature.  And I
won't know how it ever went away.  It is embarrassing.  Who knows?
Maybe I have water on the brain and I tipped my head the wrong way
and flooded those memory circuits.  Then I tipped my head the other
way and that section drained and started functioning again.

Other people say they go through the same thing, but I am not sure
I believe them.  Or at least I am not sure it happens to them with
the same frequency as it happens to me.  I can compensate.  I can
create software tools to do my remembering for me.  Or I can create
mnemonic techniques that help me remember.  I have a phonetic
technique to turn numbers into simple phrases.  My passport number
is F218452.  The numeric part translates into the phrase "not for
loan." And it is really easy to remember that my passport really is
not for loan.  So I know my passport number.  That is unless it is
218452F.  The other problem with mnemonic techniques is that if you
really have such a bad memory, how do you know you will remember
the mnemonic?  You don't.  I think that at one time I had a whole
lot more mnemonic techniques, none of which come readily to mind.
It turns into a real etiquette problem.  Supposedly it is rude to
forget somebody's name.  I mean only for so long can you go "Oh
hi,...  there." I have a reasonable memory for faces but I cannot
associate a name or where I saw this person.  But it is terrible to
go through life as a closet amnesiac There is someone at work who I
thought looked familiar the first time I saw her.

Well, that happens with a lot of people and most just look
something like someone else I have seen in real life or in a film.
So I often meet someone without being sure if I know them or not.
This one woman I worked with very occasionally and somewhere in the
back of my mind I was sure she looked like someone I had seen at
some point.  Years later we discovered that when I was in 7th grade
in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, she was in the same building in 8th
grade.  I still don't know if this was a valid memory.  (Shoot, now
where was I going with this idea?  Oh, yes.)  Well, if my memory is
that much faultier than someone else's which of my other faculties
are faulty and have to be compensated for?  Maybe my problems are
not unique.  That brings me to the question I had before.  Do
others of you out there feel you are constantly compensating for
and covering up something that really makes your brain and thought
processes different from other people's.  Is my psychology actually
different from everybody else's or am I just being paranoid?  And
if everybody else is abnormal, how come they are so much better at
covering it up?  [-mrl]


TOPIC: IN MY ROOM and THE QUIET EARTH (film comments by Evelyn C.

I just saw the 2019 German film IN MY ROOM and was stuck by its
similarity to the 1985 New Zealand film THE QUIET EARTH.


- Both manage to do post-apocalypse stories with having to deal
with millions of rotting bodies, radiation, etc..

- Both have the main character go into convenience store.

- Both have the main character break privacy glass in a door,
leaving similar jagged edges.

- Both have the main character almost hit a truck standing
diagonally across a road.

- Both have the main character discover a corpse that hasn't
disappeared (presumably because only live people disappeared).

- In THE QUIET EARTH the main character runs over an (empty) pram
in the center of the road; in IN MY ROOM, we see a pram in the
center of the road, but the main character drives around it.

THE QUIET EARTH does have more fires, floods, explosions, etc., due
to unattended stoves, bathtubs, etc.

THE QUIET EARTH also has more tantalizing hints of the event: a bed
tray is still positioned across the now-empty bed. a crashed
airplane has all the seat belts still fastened over the seats, with
just enough slack for a person, etc.  It also has a bit more
explanation of a cause.

In IN MY ROOM, the main character moves back to his farm and starts
plowing and raising animals; in THE QUIET EARTH, the main character
moves into a millionaire's home, collects expensive art, and drinks

In IN MY ROOM, only humans have disappeared; in THE QUIET EARTH
apparently all (larger) animals seem to have disappeared, but it is
not very consistent.  The characters in THE QUIET EARTH seem
surprised there are still fish in the stream.  (They decide the
fish were hatched from eggs fertilized after the event.  Someone
also sees (live) maggots on the body of someone who must have been
dead at the time of the event.

Had Ulrich Kohler (the writer/director of IN MY ROOM) seen THE
QUIET EARTH?  He was born in West Germany in 1969, and THE QUIET
EARTH had a release in West Germany. so it is not inconceivable
that he had.  But given how none of the reviews I read of IN MY
ROOM even mention THE QUIET EARTH, it is possible the latter is so
obscure that that this is just coincidence.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Spam Email (letter of comment by the folks at

In response to Mark's comments on spam email in the 10/18/19 issue
of the MT VOID, the folks at write:

Thanks to Mark and Evelyn Leeper, we get new issues regularly, and
I have a software routine that accepts them and readies them for
posting on  However, today's issue
started with a section by Mark asking folks to stop using the word
"million" in emails to him, so he could filter out all the spam
that offered to make him rich.  My software decided that this MT
Void, which quoted a number of such emails, was itself spam and
refused to process it.  Thanks to the magic of manual processing,
the new issue is up, but that was an unexpected consequence of this
particular fannish diatribe.  []

Evelyn adds:

Just a reminder that  is a wonderful repository of
fanzines, conventions reports and photos, and a host of many other
things fannish.  They also have a YouTube channel,  [-ecl]


TOPIC: MOBY DICK (1930) (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)

[This is included as an appendix to Evelyn's comments on the 1998
version of MOBY DICK, below.]

What follows is a true and accurate synopsis of the 1930 film MOBY
DICK, starring John Barrymore (as Ahab) and Joan Bennett.  Noble
Johnson plays Queequeg.  It is based on Herman Melville's classic
of men and the sea.

The film opens with the camera moving in for a look at the book
Moby Dick, or The White Whale.  The novel begins, "There never was,
nor ever will be, a braver life than the life of the whaler.
Compared to the game they hunted the mightiest land beast was but a
poodle dog."  [Boy, that Melville!  He sure can write!]

Fade to the harbor of the New Bedford seaport.  The Mary Anne is
pulling into harbor; all eyes are on the callow young seaman doing
acrobatics on top of the mast.  Why, it's handsome young Ahab
showing off again!  Ahab comes ashore and flirts with some of the
girls and hilariously insults others.  ("If they cut into you
they'd certainly get plenty of blubber.")  Ahab sees his brother
Derek escorting a new girl in town--Faith, the parson's daughter--
to church.  Ahab is struck with Faith's beauty but decides to go to
the grog shop instead of church.  There Ahab meets Queequeg, a
primitive man who carries an idol he talks to.  Queequeg becomes
Ahab's sidekick.  Eventually Ahab does go to church and flirts with

Before long Faith is losing interest in Derek's courting because,
like all the girls, she is intrigued by the handsome Ahab.  As Ahab
is setting sail again Faith tells him that it is he, not Derek,
that she loves.  They agree to marry when Ahab returns.

Ahab and the Mary Anne are at sea when Ahab sights Moby Dick, the
black whale with a white hump and forehead.  [This allows the use
of stock footage.]  As Ahab and his cronies chase the whale in the
long boat, Ahab takes one risk too many.  The whale turns on Ahab
and bites him.  Ahab loses a leg and it is replaced by a peg.

When Faith sees Ahab is returning she is overjoyed.  But when she
sees the peg leg she is momentarily shocked and runs away.  Weeks
later, we see Ahab unable to get work as a whaler.  Faith asks
Derek to tell Ahab that she still loves Ahab.  Derek twists the
message so Ahab thinks Faith does not really love him.  Derek then
tells Faith that Ahab has cursed her.

Ahab goes to sea for seven years, but not as a whaler.  Faith
realizes too late that she should not have trusted Derek.  Eagerly
she awaits Ahab's return.  Eventually Ahab manages to buy his own
whaling ship, the Shanghai Lady.  He sails it back to New Bedford
to get a crew to go after Moby Dick.

[It should be noted that we are now fifty minutes into a seventy-
five-minute movie and are ready to start telling Melville's story.
Melville tells only the last third of the story, which, of course,
is why Moby Dick is such a thin book.]

Ahab is unable to get a crew so must shanghai one from the brothels
and grog shops.  The meaner and nastier the crew, the better, he
decided since he really wants revenge on Moby Dick.  Once at sea,
however, the shanghaied crew is surly and unmanageable.  They are
cutthroats one and all.  There is one exception.  It is Derek who
was shanghaied onto the Shanghai Lady with the rest.  Derek finds
out his brother Ahab is the captain, but the mates don't believe it
and will not let him see Ahab.

During a storm Derek decides to break out of the hold to confront
Ahab.  The rest of the crew take this opportunity to mutiny.  With
storm and mutiny raging, Derek finds Ahab at the wheel and accuses
him of intentionally shanghaiing him.  The two fight and Ahab is
winning when Derek throws a knife into Ahab's back.  Queequeg--
Ahab's old friend--picks up Derek and breaks his back.  There is no
explanation about what happened to the mutiny, but it seems to have
ended by the next scene.

Fair weather returns, but Ahab is depressed.  He decides Moby Dick
has beaten him.  "He's licked me, Mr. Stubbs," he says.  Just then
Moby Dick is sighted.  The longboats hit the water.  Moby Dick
turns on Ahab's longboat but Ahab swims to the whale and,
demoniacally laughing, repeatedly stabs the whale with a harpoon.
Moby Dick dies.  We last see pieces of Moby Dick being cut up on
the deck of the Shanghai Lady.

Ahab and the Shanghai Lady return to New Bedford.  There Ahab
discovers that Faith has waited for him.  The two fall into each
other's arms.

Boy, that Herman Melville!  He sure can write!  [-mrl]


TOPIC: V-1 (letter of comment by Paul Dormer)

In response to Mark's comments on the V-1 rocket in the 11/01/19
issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

I must have mentioned my family involvement with the V-1.  If not,
see this blog from about Lewisham history and my
comments at the end:

I'll add that my grandmother claimed to have been on a bus going
through Deptford just before a V-2 hit Woolworth's (on a Saturday
morning), claimed to be the worst loss of life in a rocket attack
in WWII.

Lewisham was the main shopping area in SE London before the war.
Famously, information fed back by turned agents made the Germans
think their bombs were overshooting, resulting in most of them
falling on SE London.  Lewisham didn't really recover until the

Also, in the film THE GLENN MILLER STORY, you see James Stewart as
Miller conducting his band in wartime London whilst a V-1 goes
overhead.  Several scenes later, D-Day is announced, which is
anachronistic.  The first V-1s fell a week after D-Day.  [-pd]


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

It's MOBY DICK again.  But this time it is not so much about the
book, but about the 1998 film and why I do not think it is a good
version of the novel.

When one is adapting a written work into a film, in addition to
portraying events from the work, one can omit events, change
events, or even add events.  My opinion is that the first is
necessary for any work longer than a novella, the second is
permissible if there are good reasons (e.g., the event is really
just a digression in the book, or is too repetitious), and the
third is rarely (if ever) justified.  The 1998 film does all three.

Yes, the novel MOBY DICK is long enough that much will have to be
omitted.  I have no complaint with the omission of all the whaling
chapters; they are not exactly cinematic anyway.  And I understand
that most of the gams had to be omitted, leaving only the Samuel
Enderby and (of necessity) the Rachel.

But there are also a lot of great scenes that are left out for no
good reason.  Was it for time reasons?  Well, no.

Why do I say that?  Because they added a lot of things that were
not in the book, and this is just a no-no.  For example, they added
an entire sequence of the men hauling the Pequod over the ice in
the Antarctic.  This was most definitely not in the book, and adds

They also change the encounter with Moby Dick.  In the book, they
meet him once,chase him for three days, and then are destroyed.  In
the 1998 TV-movie they meet him twice: once at the end, and the
other time right before the midpoint--that is right before the
first night's broadcast ended.  And at the end, they do not chase
him for three days.  I guess they needed the time to have the men
drag the Pequod over the ice--which wasn't in the book.

Also, in the book, no one falls from the top of the mast, and no
one deserts in a boat.  Ahab is perfectly willing to let them catch
some whales.  Ishmael does not take Queequeg to church.  (And in
the book there is a lot more of Queequeg's religion; I suppose I
understand that portraying this might have been interpreted as
patronizing or condescending.  Plus they needed the time to have
the men drag the Pequod over the ice--which wasn't in the book.)

In the book, Father Mapple's pulpit has a rope ladder that he draws
up after himself.  This seems foolish to leave this detail out; it
doesn't really require extra time or money.

In the book, Fedallah is a Parsi (an Indian Zoroastrian); in the
film he (and his crew) are apparently Chinese, and rather than
being "turbaned", he has the Chinese queue.

And so many memorable scenes are left out: Queequeg's use of the
wheelbarrow (okay, patronizing again), Tashtego falling into a
whale's head and being rescued by Queequeg, ... the list goes on
and on.

In short, though people claim the 1998 film is accurate to the
book, they are mistaken.

See also Mark's review of the 1930 film version of MOBY DICK.  And
just a reminder: my annotations to MOBY DICK may be found at  [-ecl]


                      Mark Leeper

           I washed a sock. Then I put it in the dryer. When I took
           it out, it was gone.
                                           --Rod Schmidt