Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
11/30/18 -- Vol. 37, No. 22, Whole Number 2043

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
                Lectures, etc. (NJ)
        My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in December (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        MAC AND ME (comments by Gary Labowitz)
        The Metric System (letter of comment by Gary Labowitz)
        Penguin Quote (letter of comment by Denise Moy)
        Thanksgiving, Square Dancing, and ISLE OF DOGS (letter
                of comment by John Purcell)
        Origami, Quotes, James Bond, and THE SONG OF SWAY LAKE
                (letter of comment by John Hertz)
        This Week's Reading (READY PLAYER ONE, SPACE OPERA, and
                100 GREATEST FILM SCORES) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Correction

Last week I misspelled Dale Speirs's name; my apologies.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
Lectures, etc. (NJ)

December 13: THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) (film) and "Who
        Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. (short story),
        Middletown Public Library, 5:30 PM
December 20: TBD, Old Bridge Public Library, 7:00 PM
January 24, 2019: THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu
March 28, 2019: WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1920)
May 23, 2019: DIASPORA by Greg Egan
     by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
September 26, 2019: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada
November 28, 2019: THE SLEEPER WAKES by H. G. Wells (1910)
January 23, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada
March 26, 2020: TBD by Edgar Rice Burroughs
May 28, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada
July 23, 2020: TBD by Jules Verne
September 24, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada
November 19, 2020: Rudyard Kipling:
     "A Matter of Fact" (1892)
     "The Ship That Found Herself" (1895)
     ".007" (1897)
     "Wireless" (1902)
     "With the Night Mail [Aerial Board of Control 1]" (1905)
     "As Easy as A.B.C. [Aerial Board of Control 2]" (1912)
     "In the Same Boat" (1911)

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


TOPIC: My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in December (comments by
Mark R. Leeper)

This is not really a "Pick of the Month" but just a pointer to a
strange and fun film.  As I assume most of my readers know in the
1930s up into the 1970s it was common practice for movie theaters,
particularly drive-in theaters, to have double features, offering
the public two films for the price of one.  Too frequently the
second feature was of minimal budget.  That sounds like a bad
thing, but the second film often was made with more creativity than
the feature attraction.  The filmmakers were less likely to depend
on large profits and they would take chances trying to find a
concept that might intrigue a filmgoer who stumbled on the poster.
Instead of something only semi-unimaginative like a giant ant or a
giant spider or some other giant arthropod or crustacean, you might
get a giant evil, angry tree stump.  The latter was featured in

The concept of FROM HELL IT CAME (1957) is that if a man has been
treated with sufficient injustice, in this life he could come back
not as an avenging ghost but as a Tabonga.  What is a Tabonga, you
ask? It is a walking (and avenging) spirit wrapped in a tree
trunk."  Do you want to see what an angry tree stump looks like?
Well it sort of looks like a cross between an angry Orthodox rabbi
and a cinnamon sticky bun.  See
if your heart can take it.  New York Times reviewed the film with
three succinct words:  "Back send it."  Not a very good film, but
it has its moments of fun and the idea is weird enough to make up
for the film's numerous deficiencies.  [FROM HELL IT CAME. Friday,
December 14, 3:30 PM (ET]

BEN-HUR is a sweeping historical epic.  If you think about it, BEN-
HUR is, among other things, both a sports film and a religious film
on a grand scale.  I usually do not care for sports films or
religious films, but I have to say that BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE
CHRIST (1925) but is both and features a chariot race every bit as
exciting as the race in the 1959 version of the same story.  It is
one of the most impressive spectacles ever made.  If you have any
doubts about that watch it. [BEN-HUR, Sunday, December 9, 12:30 AM

Happy Holidays!!!  [-mrl]


TOPIC: MAC AND ME (comments by Gary Labowitz)

Just a quick note:

I was up really late before Thanksgiving, working on a soup, and
out of boredom turned on the TV to see what was happening.  I hit
on Turner Classic Movies with a picture (in progress, but just
starting) about some kids discovering a small alien.  After about
ten minutes of watching it I decided it was a horrible movie.  The
acting was really bad, with the kids poorly reading the lines; the
direction was awful, and very distracting.  The filming looks cheap
and clumsy.  I thought to myself, "This is horrible.  One of the
worst pictures I've ever seen." But I got dragged into it a little
and I started watching it just see what was going to happen.  It
seemed to get better.  It dragged along with the usual kids
accepting everything, and the parent (in this case) busy with her
own stuff and ignoring the kids.  I starting thinking, "ET ... it's
ET." Then I wondered who stole from whom? I couldn't turn it off.
The ending was notably inane, so I won't spoil it for you.  FBI or
CIA or something men chasing the kids and falling down at the least
provocation (tripping over a skate board, running into cars, etc.
to make it an "exciting almost gotcha you now chase"), but
eventually everybody including the stupid mother come to accept
that the aliens are not a threat and the kids are, of course,

After it was over I just had to check it on Wikipedia to see the
dates of E.T., THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, and this mess ...
which turned out to be called MAC AND ME.  So, THE DAY THE EARTH
STOOD STILL was 1951, E.T. was 1982, MAC AND ME was 1988.  Totally
derivative.  Wiki also told me that the movie had a perfect Rotten
Tomatoes score of 0%.  Reviews at the time were quoted as its being
one of the worst, or actual worst movie ever made, and it didn't
even get a Raspberry Award of any kind.

Still, it was on TCM!  It turns out it is a major "Cult Movie,"
meaning it stinks but people enjoy watching it and booing.  It was
on SF Theater 3000 as well.  I bet they had a lot of fun with it.

Anyway, if you have never seen this mess and have 90 minutes on
your hands ... try and see it.  I have no idea of how often it will
be offered up, and I can't imagine it is available for purchase
(you'll have to DVR it).  The comment was that it cost $13 million
or so, earned $6 million, and became profitable with world-wide
sales of VCR tapes.  Yikes!

This has been just a quick note.  [-gl]

Mark replies:

I never saw the film, but I remember when it came out.  After
Reeses Pieces got lots of valuable product exposure from E.T., this
film was made to give exposure to McDonald's.  The film was called
MAC AND ME.  But the film that resulted was considered just awful
and the McDonald's tie-in may not have ever been used.  Did the
film have references to McDonald's?  [-mrl]

Gary answers:

Yes!  There was a party scene, and Ronald MacDonald was in it.  I
believe some sort of award went to the Ronald MacDonald character.


TOPIC: The Metric System (letter of comment by Gary Labowitz)

In response to Dan Cox's comments on the metric system in the
11/16/18 issue of the MT VOID, Gary Labowitz writes:

Oh my Foofoo, Dan Cox:

You raise a lot of problems I hadn't thought of.  Do we have to
rewire and re-plumb all our houses and commercial buildings? Or
tear through them to insert joint adapters from English to Metric?
Remember the Y2K scare and the work done to convert century-less
variables in programs to century variables (i.e., for non
programmers, changing the storage from "14" to "2014" instead of
assuming "1914."  You'd be surprised at the number of original
designers who "saved" two characters of storage by programming that
way.  One of my first projects for IBM was to rewire a board on a
405 calculator to add "20" to the dates being processed and printed
which had been used as "xx" with an automatic "19" added while
running.  It was for an insurance company (in the North part of
Missouri) that sold insurance than was meant to expire or pay out
in 40-100 years after issuance.  So, in 1962 when I was hired, they
were writing policies that would expire in 20xx, and the boards had
been set up to automatically put "19" on the date.  They didn't
like that some of them read "expires 1902."  So I was working on
the Y2K problem in 1962! Gee, this was a long aside.)

Back to the Metric problem.  Well, this is much the same scope
converting to metric.  Further aside: a propo to nothing else, my
wife just wandered in and asked me whether it was "blessed" or
"blest". (Spell check doesn't recognize "blest.")  I launched into
an explanation of the German vs. French origins of our language and
the weak and strong conjugations, and she left, probably more
confused than ever.  I think metric vs. English usage will the be
the same.  Of course, we could leave the actual sizing the same
(number of threads per inch, etc. and just call it 3.8 or 4.17,
etc. for standard "sizes" or numbers assigned to the actual item.
(Aside: I run into this all the time while doing calligraphy: nibs
are sold in mm, and markings for scripting and printing are done in
inches.  I have to use a computer to convert from one to the
other.) I didn't know the 5K was already metric.  I can only do the
100 feet (oooo, English!) before I have to sit down.  Thus, my
handicap parking permit.

Which, of course I have a nit pick about! Stores are putting an
inadequate number of parking spaces near their entry doors for
handicapped parking.  But, for stores that use carts (mostly
grocery stores) they put the cart return somewhere out in the
middle of the parking lots.  Or, I think, you are supposed to
return them back to the entry door area where they are stored.
This means that it is convenient to pick up a cart when you enter,
but after loading your car with your purchases you either have to
make two trips (one to return the cart and one to then return to
your car) to put the cart back.  This doesn't make sense.  The
point was to make it less distance for the handicapped to go to
shop there.  So why don't they have a return area next to the
handicapped parking area?  I'll answer that: Like most Americans
today they don't think of consequences when they choose to do
something.  Sloppy and lazy thinking has come to dominate our
culture.  I knew we were in trouble when the cry first erupted of
"If it feels good, do it.") Look at the mess we are in.  Culture is
now working toward operation on the principle of how one feels,
rather than how one thinks.  Our laws are starting to be "feel
good" laws (like having "hate" crimes instead of "crimes" or making
regulations (not even laws) that protect plants and animals so we
can feel good instead of doing what is needed in each case to
achieve an objective.  If someone says they feel good when they are
not seeing "guns" (and usually calling everything an "assault"
weapon without a definition or knowing what they are talking about)
and their solution is that they should not be exposed to "guns"
(seeing them, talking about them, or thinking about them).  They
never stop ;to consider having a solution that prevents "guns" from
getting into the hands of criminals and idiots.  By this I mean
laws that would deal with the "gunners" rather than the "guns."
[Aside: see my suggestions in my blog,]

So, metric?  Not in my lifetime, I guess.  I still measure by the
King's foot.  Foolish, but effective.  Sorry, I don't know how many
nanometers that is.  [-gl]


TOPIC: Penguin Quote (letter of comment by Denise Moy)

In response to Paul Dormer's comments on the source of the quote,
"This book told me more than I wanted to know about Penguins." in
the 11/23/18 issue of the MT VOID, Denise Moy writes:

When I checked the quote on Google, I found this tidbit which
offers no verifiable information about the girl or the book club:  [-dm]


TOPIC: Thanksgiving, Square Dancing, and ISLE OF DOGS (letter of
comment by John Purcell)

In response to various comments in the 11/16/18 issue of the MT
VOID, John Purcell writes:

Good morning, Mark and Evelyn.  I hope that you two are well and we
in the Purcell household and Petting Zoo wish you a happy
Thanksgiving weekend.  My wife and I, being employed in the
education field, both have a nice long holiday weekend off: Valerie
has had this entire week off--counting this past and forthcoming
weekends, she has nine days off--while I get a five-day weekend
starting today.  That's nice, and gives us both a chance to relax
and catch up on housework and prepare for the holiday shopping
season, something that neither one of us cares for at all.

Mark's continued Square Dance Saga reminds me of when I did a lot
of square dancing back in the early-80s.  This was when I was in
the midst of my first gafiation from fandom (lasted all of eighteen
months) and it was actually a lot of fun.  In fact, when I met my
first wife a couple years later I was still swinging my partner,
whoever the heck it was since this was a bunch of people I barely
knew since it was a community square dance club, so not many single
men and women were involved.  This was not exactly the best way to
meet women.  In any event, while dating Lori I took her to that a
couple times and discovered much to my chagrin that she had three
left feet compared to my one.  Apparently my musical abilities
translated to being relatively well-coordinated, too.  Her? Not so
much.  Long story short--too late!--is that I enjoyed square
dancing.  back then.  In fact, I probably still would.  It's great
aerobic exercise.  Chances are if I started skipping to my Lou I'd
probably slip and bruise my ego, or slip a disc, or get so winded
I'd need oxygen, or...  You get the idea.

I have never seen ISLE OF DOGS, but heard of it.  We have a dog.
Duckie is an abnormally tall pure-bred Yellow Labrador, and at ten
years old is still full of vim and vigor.  Lots of energy in his
body.  Come to think of it, if I put a calico hoop skirt on him, a
blond wig on his head, add lipstick, I bet I could take him square
dancing and no-one would be the wiser.  Naw.  He'd probably hook up
with a two-bit floozy bleached-blonde Poodle and run off and live
the rest of his life in sin.  Forget I ever mentioned it.  [-jp]


TOPIC: Origami, Quotes, James Bond, and THE SONG OF SWAY LAKE
(letter of comment by John Hertz)

In response to various comments in past issues of the MT VOID, John
Hertz writes:

I cannot even imagine what a ripping yarn about origami could
possibly (VOID 2032).  The "gami" is the Japanese word "kami".
"paper"  And I understand you can only fold, not staple or

Quoting things--or saying one quotes them (the verb "to purport" is
used by lawyers, perhaps because we often enough have to say "They
say they're doing it, but we don't care to express an opinion about
whether they really are doing it")--with no citation of who spoke,
when, where found, what the source is--was not invented by
Electronicland, but seem to be worse there.  I'd guess *the most
surprising, shocking, and stupid statements, with no citations,
would not justify the third word of that subtitle.

I like Ian Fleming's "James Bond" books.  I like them as
literature.  Inter alia they are very well made.  I don't think
them any more, or less, than what they are.  I've taken up
MOONRAKER for a Classics of S-F discussion.  This surprised people.
Shocked some.  As I recall, I had to beat them over the head with
Gala Brand's surprising and shocking Bond at the end.  But a book
isn't good because it rewards my friends and punishes my enemies.
That would be stupid.

I wasn't around in the 1940s--or if I was, I don't remember--but
I'm not so sure a mansion filled with swing music would have a
peaceful life style.  M makes THE SONG OF SWAY LAKE sound like a
film made so as to put a Y in the title instead of a second N.  But
I haven't seen it.  [-jh]

Mark responds:

Actually there were stories of origami masters so good that their
figures actually came to life.  They would have been able to fold
demons and set them on They enemies.  There are possibilities

I have no idea why the film was titled as it was, but it was "Sway"
in the title.  [-mrl]


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

I recently watched READY PLAYER ONE.  It took me about thirty
seconds after one character was introduced to figure out where this
was going.  James Halliday is Steve Jobs.  Oasis is the Metaverse.
Clearly i-R0k is Raven.  The Distracted Globe is the Black Sun.
The Curator is the Librarian.  Wade doesn't live in a storage
locker per se, but what he does live in is not very different.

SPACE OPERA by Catherynne Valente (ISBN 978-1-481-49749-7) reminded
me of the works of Douglas Adams or Raymond Chandler.  But if Adams
and Chandler use their stylized language as hot fudge on a sundae,
where a little goes a long way, Valente has made a sundae that
seems to be 75% hot fudge and very little ice cream.  I liked the
style but after a while I was just overwhelmed by it.

100 GREATEST FILM SCORES by Matt Lawson and Laurence E. MacDonald
(ISBN 978-1-5381-0367-8) would undoubtedly mean more to someone more
familiar with music than I am.  Lawson and MacDonald are by no
means overly technical, but they must sometimes be.  My major
complaint is with the arrangement: alphabetical rather than
chronological, without even a chronological list at the end to help
one read in that order if one prefers.  And it omits FORBIDDEN
PLANET, certainly one of the most original scores of the 1950s.


                                           Mark Leeper

           I do not mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy.
                                           --Samuel Butler