Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
12/14/18 -- Vol. 37, No. 24, Whole Number 2045

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Of Magic Swords and Zombie Dogs (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        SUSPIRIA (2018) (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        THE HATE U GIVE (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        Super Powers (letters of comment by Paul Dormer, Kevin R,
                and Dorothy J. Heydt)
        This Week's Reading (INSIDE THE THIRD REICH) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Of Magic Swords and Zombie Dogs (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

I have mentioned the following previously in this column.  Some of
you long time members might remember this and might find this

I was talking to Evelyn about a piece she had seen in a local
newspaper.  A local dog, a dachshund by the way, apparently had
died, was buried, and had some time later came back scratching at
the door.

Her family had had a little funeral for the dog.  The kids were
crying, not I blame them. But Pixie the dachshund supposedly had
gone off to join the Choir Invisible.  In any case Pixie was
supposedly off and gone.  And then Pixie after an absence of a few
days showed up asking to be re-admitted to the house.  That was
about all it said in the newspaper.  I just told Evelyn that it is
not uncommon for dachshunds to return from the dead.  Evelyn asked
me if I was serious.  But how could I be?  She said she assumed I
was joking, but I was perfectly serious.

It seems that dachshunds were originally bred as a hunting dog.  In
fact nobody is really sure if they are descended from hounds or
terriers, but there is probably bloodlines from each.  They have
the skill to be really good burrowing dogs.

Now veterinarians may be hired to put dogs peacefully to sleep.
(Hopefully to avoid a worse medical condition.)  But some vets are
better than others.  Suffice it to say some dogs are thought to be
dead while they are still alive.  It happens to humans still.  And
it is like something out of Edgar Allan Poe.  But there the dog has
the edge over the human.  Did I mention that dachshunds are really
good a burrowing?  The dog may regain consciousness and understand
she was in a hell of a pickle.  Now Ms. Dachshund knows she likes
tunneling, but she has never had a challenge like this before.  I
cannot imagine what is going through the dog's head.  Is she
confident in her skills?  Who can say? But she clearly had her work
cut out for her.

Somehow she manages to dig her way to oxygen out and, as another
canine super power the dog can figure her way home.  I don't know
if science knows how the dog can do it, but the dog knows how to
get home.  It was a heck of a surprise for the owners who were
bidding a fond farewell.

Sure as there were magic swords there are zombie dogs who return
from the grave and who find their way home.  It is still an
impressive and almost supernatural feat that dogs sometimes can do.

Wait!  What was that about magic swords?  Back in Medieval times
people fought with swords.  A lot of swords did not come with
lifetime guarantees.  And some of the swords made at that time
could cut their way through iron armor and still be unbroken.
There were a few really hard and strong swords.  What was going on?

Well, their method for extracting iron from the ground was less
than ideal.  Maybe the metal forged was good iron.  Sometimes they
got unnoticed more carbon than they usually got.  Then the iron
comes out spoiled.  They made something that even isn't really
iron.  You call that steel.  You end up with a steel sword.  You
find the sword you made a lot stronger than iron.  Then you don't
want the rumor that you have a really strong sword to get around.
If you brag about it someone might want to take it away from you.
But still you would have had a magic sword for a while.  It would
be strong enough to hold off a for-real zombie dog.  You see it all
fits together.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: SUSPIRIA (2018) (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: An American girl from Ohio gets an opportunity to study at
a prestigious dance academy in Germany.  She jumps at the prospect
in spite of being told that the women who run the school are
actually witches.  This is a remake of the 1977 classic horror film
directed by Dario Argento.  This version, directed by Luca
Guadagnino, expands on the original offering generous slices of
performance of modern (well, 1977) dance.  Some sequences offer
beautiful art while others are ponderous and slow.  There is a good
deal of nudity.  Dakota Johnson plays the main character, Susie
Bannion.  Tilda Swinton co-stars and Jessica Harper, the star of
SUSPIRIA (1977), is somewhere in the new film.  Rating: +2 (-4 to
+4) or 7/10

The original 1977 version of SUSPIRIA had quite a decent response
from American horror film fans, though I myself was ambivalent.  In
this film an American dance student is barely in the doors of her
new dance academy when she starts hearing strange rumors that the
women who run the school are actually witches.  She of course is
skeptical but that is just one of several lines of conflict
occurring at the school and outside.  The teaching 1977 is the time
of the Baader Meinhof terrorists and inside the school.  The
filmmakers let us in on some competing theories of dance.  And
saved for the last part of the film, the discussion shifts to the
Holocaust.  It does create a feeling of menace that hangs over the
viewer.  Both versions of the film have much the same surreal

The new film is bigger and more colorful than was the original
film.  Director Guadagnino spends the time to show the audience a
nice sample of Damien Jalet's brand of choreography. And that is a
plus which elevates the film.  It also shows that somebody in the
production cared about a little more than just shocking the viewer.
Meanwhile the story is told in frequently long and tedious takes.
Not all of the plot makes sense.  Some of the scenes go past faster
than the eye can parse them.  Overall at over two and a half hours
the story does drag.

I rate it a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.  SUSPIRIA (2018) was
released by Amazon Studios last October in the US.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: THE HATE U GIVE (film review by Mark R. Leeper)


A few pieces of the arc of the story are revealed in this review.

CAPSULE: Spike Lee showed one possible scenario for a spark that
starts a race riot with his DO THE RIGHT THING.  Director George
Tillman gives us a very different genesis but one that also leads
to a riot.  While the film is a bit hard-bitten it seems a little
too anxious to have a positive ending.  Several racially-charged
and involved issues are brought together in an effective story.
Director: George Tillman, Jr.; Writers: Audrey Wells, Angie Thomas.
Rating: +3 (-4 to +4) or 9/10

Starr Carter (played by Amandla Stenberg) is a 16-year-old African-
Americangirl and her father has given her "The Talk."  The Talk may
not be what the viewer is expecting.  The Talk is not about how to
handle boy friends getting too amorous.  It is about how to NOT be
shot and killed when stopped by police.  It seems African-American
teens live life under the shadow and constant threat of death from
the frequent and lethal encounters with the police who kill with
near impunity.

Starr lives a double life.  When she is near her high school, which
is in a white neighborhood, she works at assimilating into the
mostly white and affluent neighborhood.  Outside of the affluent
surroundings she returns to her home poverty-stricken neighborhood.

One night Starr is given a ride home from a party by her friend
since childhood, Khalid, who is also black.  Starr knows the right
things to do having been coached by her father.  Khalid, however,
does not know the rules and un intentionally provokes the police
officer.  The policeman reacts from fear and shoots Khalid three
times in the chest, killing him on the spot.  The only witness to
the shooting is Starr.  She agrees to help the police investigating
the shooting under the condition that her name is kept out of the
affair.  What starts as a bad situation just gets worse.

The writing gives the audience a many faceted look at multiple
communities' looking at a story that grabs national headlines.  The
film's biggest problem is that it is tied up a little too neatly
toward the end.

The film has its worst faults at its conclusion.  The last moments
of the film are unrealistically optimistic.  That may be from its
source material.  The film is based on young adult novel written
for teenagers.  Perhaps it avoids being too bleak.  At 132 minutes
the film the film takes its time to give a view of a complex social
problem.  But then it ties things up a little too neatly at the
end.  Still the film is intelligently planned out.  I rate the film
a +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or /10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Super Powers (letters of comment by Paul Dormer, Kevin R,
and Dorothy J. Heydt)

In response to Mark's comments on super powers in the 12/07/18
issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

There was a time in the nineties when I wondered if I had a
superpower.  Again, not a very useful one.   I seemed to be able to
cause street lights to go off as I walked past them.  I can't
remember all the details now, but I think there was a light between
my office and the station in London that went off every night in
winter when I walked past, and there was a light on the approach
road to the station where I lived that went off whenever I left the

Even when I was attending Intersection in Glasgow in 1995, I used
to walk back to my hotel along the bank of the Clyde and there was
a light under a bridge that went off several times.

And just after Intersection, when I was still in Glasgow, I saw an
article in the paper about someone who was reporting the same
phenomenon.  He'd actually set up a website about it and I clipped
the article to investigate later.  Unfortunately, I moved house a
few days after getting back from Glasgow and the clipping got lost
in the move.

Even when I moved to Guildford, there was a light on the way from
my house to the station, not on a light pole but on the wall of an
old persons' residence, that seemed to go out every time I walked

My working hypothesis was that these lights were faulty and were
going on and off all the time and it was just a coincidence that it
happened when I was walking past.  I never had time to test this by
standing by one of these lights to see if it did go off and on
repeatedly, and I couldn't work out how to test if it still went on
and off when I wasn't there.

In the last twenty years or so, this seems to have stopped
happening.  Either I've lost the power or they've improved the
reliability of street lights.  [-pd]

Mark responds:

I have also noted me seeming to burn out streetlights.  I think
that the explanation was that they tend to periodically turn off
and come back in later.  We notice when one does shut off and it
never registers when one turns on.  It may be that a light calls
attention to itself when it inexplicably turns off, but not when it
slowly turns on.  But one of us would commonly point out we had
burned out another one.  Since then that kind of light stopped
being used.  [-mrl]

Kevin R writes:

I broke both of my wrists in elementary school.  One when I was ten
years old, and the other two years later.  Cold weather would make
the bones ache where they had healed.  It wasn't much of a problem
when I was living on Long Island, but when I went off to college in
Milwaukee, I got an education in the difference between coastal
"cold" and mid-continental cold.  I was able to "predict" whether
we'd get snow from the aches in my wrists.  My "wild talent"
evaporated as I got older and the bones presumably knit fully.

I imagine I was absorbing weather reports from the media and
funneling the info through my bones.

In my area we have motion sensitive lights in our company parking
lot.  I've turned them on by waving my arms, when I've stood still
too long and they wink out.  [-kr]

Paul responds:

The house opposite mine has one of those, but it seems to have been
glitching lately.  I got up one morning and noticed the light
opposite was on.  Then it went off.  Then it came on again.  There
was no-one around.  [-pd]

And Dorothy Heydt responds to Kevin:

More likely, the cold front was accompanied by a drop in
atmospheric pressure.  I have a pair of "weather toes" that
complain whenever that happens.*

(*The second toe on each foot, which are slightly longer than the
big toes, and hence get stubbed--and, in extreme cases, broken--
oftener than the big toes.}

I have two fairly-recently-broken wrists too, one from 2008 and one
from 2009.  They ache betimes, but not in harmony with the weather
that I've ever noticed.  [-djh]

And to Paul:

My neighbors used to have a back porch light that did [what Paul
describes], some years ago.  Now it stays on all night.  [-djh]


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

[This is part one of three parts.]

Someplace recently I read a recommendation for INSIDE THE THIRD
REICH by Albert Speer (ISBN 978-0-684-82949-4) as perhaps the best
analysis of World War II.  Certainly Speer addresses a lot of the
strategic and tactical mistakes on both sides.  For example, he
says that the bombing raids against the ball-bearing factories in
1943 did potentially damage to the entire war effort, ball bearings
being critical to many types of machinery, but then the Allies
failed to follow up and completely destroy the factories.  (They
also failed to follow up on the raids against the Ruhr Valley
dams.)  But the Germans also failed to bomb strategic factories in
the Soviet Union, wasting their bombs on railroads that were
rapidly repaired.  Tactically, Hitler insisted on troop movements
that were completely uncoordinated with anything else.  A lot of
the tactical errors were probably due to "fighting the last war:
"In the table talk much weight was given to experiences in the
First World War.  Most of the guests had served during the war."

Speer also felt that a contributing factor to the rise of Hitler
was the lack of any training or practice in schools of the art of
critical thinking, but rather an emphasis on rote learning: "It
seems to me essential to point out these lacks, as a result of
which a whole generation was without defenses when exposed to the
new techniques for influencing opinion."

So much of what Speer says sounds depressingly (or even
frighteningly) current.

For example, he talks early on about creating scapegoats:

"To compensate for misery, insecurity, unemployment, and
hopelessness, this anonymous assemblage wallowed for hours at a
time in obsessions, savagery, license.  This was no ardent
nationalism.  Rather, for a few short hours the personal
unhappiness caused by the breakdown of the economy was replaced by
a frenzy that demanded victims.  And Hitler and Goebbels threw them
the victims.  By lashing out at their opponents and villifying the
Jews they gave expression and direction to fierce, primal

There was also a yearning for "the good old days":

"We were also escaping from the demands of a world growing
increasingly complicated.  We felt that the world around us was out
of balance.  In nature, in the mountains and the river valleys, the
harmony of Creation could still be felt.  The more virginal the
mountains, the lonelier the river valleys, the more they drew us."

"The crucial fact appeared to me to be that I personally had to
choose between a future Communist Germany or a future National
Socialist Germany since the political center between these
antipodes had melted away.  Moreover, in 1931, I had some reason to
feel that Hitler was moving in a moderate direction.  I did not
realize that there were opportunistic reasons for this.  Hitler was
trying to appear respectable in order to seem qualified to enter
the government.  The party at that time was confining itself--as
far as I can recall today--to denouncing what it called the
excessive influence of the Jews upon various spheres of cultural
and economic life.  It was demanding that their participation in
these various areas be reduced to a level consonant with their
percentage of the population.  Moreover, Hitler's alliance with the
old-style nationalists of the Harzburg Front led me to think that a
contradiction could be detected between his statements at public
meetings and his political views.  I regarded this contradiction as
highly promising.  In actuality Hitler only wanted to thrust his
way to power by whatever means he could.

"Such remarks [as referred to in Speer's previous paragraph] were
usually followed by comments on the way the Austrian central
government had crushed all independent cultural impulses on the
part of cities like Graz, Linz, or Innsbruck.  Hitler could say
these things apparently without being aware that he was imposing
the same kind of forcible regimentation upon whole countries."

[to be continued]



                                           Mark Leeper

           A barking dog is more useful than a sleeping lion.
                                           --Washington Irving