Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society

10/30/20 -- Vol. 39, No. 18, Whole Number 2143

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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 November (comments

by Mark R. Leeper)

Changes to Mark's Turner Classic Movies Picks (comments

by Evelyn C. Leeper)

Raymond Chandler (letter of comment by Kip Williams)

FROM HELL IT CAME (letters of comment by Kip Williams,

John Purcell, and Dorothy J. Heydt)

Musical Accompaniments to Silent Films (letters of comment

by Kip Williams and John Purcell)

Arthur Conan Doyle and Offensive Attitudes (letter of comment

by Fred Lerner)

This Week's Reading (A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE) (book comments

by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,

Lectures, etc. (NJ)

Needless to say, everything here is tentative.  Both the Old Bridge

and Middletown groups have (temporarily, we hope) switched to Zoom


November 5, 2020: THE TURN OF THE SCREW by Henry James and THE

INNOCENTS, Zoom, 7:30 PM (participants need to watch the film

on their own ahead of time)

The book:



The movie:


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)


Zoom, 7PM

January 28, 2021: I, ROBOT by Isaac Asimov,

Old Bridge Public Library (or Zoom), 7PM


TOPIC: My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in November (comments by

Mark R. Leeper)

My pick for November is THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, running

(suitably enough) on Veterans Day.  Shortly after the end of World

War II three soldiers are returning home to their families and to

their careers if they still exist.  Two are played by Fredric March

and Dana Andrews.  The third soldier (sailor, actually) is Homer

Parrish (played by Harold Russell), who has lost his hands in

battle and wants to escape the pity of his family and neighbors.

The film covers the lives of these three veterans after they return

to civilian life and they try to rebuild their lives.  March plays

a returning banking executive who considers that he should be using

his position to do good in the community, conflicting with the

soulless policies of his bank.  Andrews returns to find his wife

has a surprise or two for him.  Parrish won the Best Actor Academy

Award for his role.

In this small group we see several contrasts.  It is not just

military ranks but also age values.  (Interestingly, the characters

played by March and Andrews have their civilian status the reverse

of their military ranks; March was a sergeant in the Army but a

successful banker in civilian life, while Andrews was a captain but

returns to be a soda jerk.)  This is one of the best dramas of the


THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES became the highest-grossing film in

both the United States and UK since the release of GONE WITH THE

WIND.  It remains the sixth most-attended film of the 1940s in the

UK, with over 20 million tickets sold.

[THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, Wednesday, November 11, @ 5:00 PM]



TOPIC: Changes to Mark's Turner Classic Movies Picks (comments by

Evelyn C. Leeper)

For many years, Mark has been provided a *monthly* Turner Classic

Movies recommendation, the column for which runs on the last Friday

of the month.  This was possible because TCM would provide their

monthly schedule a month or even two in advance.  Now, however, TCM

has changed their website and only provides a four-week window.

(Boo!  Hiss!)

We are not dropping the recommendations, but the new process will

be different.  Each week Mark will check the listings for the week

three weeks later, and if he has a film he particularly wants to

recommend, he will recommend that in a column that will run a week

or two before the film.  Some months there may be more than one

film, but other months (yes, February, I'm looking at you) there

may be nothing new to recommend.

This new schedule will start at the end of December, since we got

the listings for the rest of the year before they disappeared.

So for now continue to look for recommendations, only less

calendar-bound.  The good news is there probably will always be a

couple of weeks' advance notice of a film.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Raymond Chandler (letter of comment by Kip Williams)

I recently found that the BBC did a series in which they adapted

all of Chandler's novels for radio, and they're not bad.  My two

gripes are the occasional slip of an otherwise okay American accent

or two, and an ignorance of the time period that led their sound

effects people to have a just-hung-up phone immediately to go dial

tone (and it's our post-1969 dial tone at that--the two-note

chord).  Some of the novels have been done by them twice now, and

it's interesting to compare the versions.  BBC have also done a

series of Hitchcock movie adaptations (more accurately, new radio

versions of properties Hitchcock adapted), the best of which

feature Alan Rickman in "Rope", and Hugh Grant in "The Blind Man"

(based on a movie Hitch ended up not making).  [-kw]

Evelyn responds:

I kept all the Ed Bishop Raymond Chandler ones when they were

podcast from the BBC several years ago, and have listened to them

dozens of times.  The only problem is that whenever I hear Ed

Bishop in anything else, I immediately think, "What is Philip

Marlowe doing in this?"  For example, he voiced Lije Bailey in the

BBC "The Caves of Steel"; at least there he is a detective as well.



TOPIC: FROM HELL IT CAME (letters of comment by Kip Williams, John

Purcell, and Dorothy J. Heydt)

In response to Mark's comments on FROM HELL IT CAME in the 10/23/20

issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:

I saw a cartoon called "The Angry Beavers" once, and keep intending

to look in on the series again because the one episode I saw was

dead-on.  This kid wants to watch a horror movie on late-night TV,

and is scaring the poo out of himself with it, and keeps doing

things to un-scare himself (think of young Bill Cosby spreading

Jello on the floor and setting fire to the couch to avoid Arch

Oboler's Chicken Heart).  And what of the movie?  Each time we see

it, it consists of insipid black and white images in which one man

is explaining the plot to another man.  GAZE UPON THE ESSENCE OF


Dorothy J. Heydt writes:

[Mark wrote,] "The New York Times, which likes to give one-line

reviews for movies scheduled for TV has a quick phrase for this

film: 'FROM HELL IT CAME?  BACK SEND IT.'"  [-mrl]

My, my.  A reviewer after the model of Dorothy Parker, who reviewed

plays for (IIRD) "The New Yorker") and made remarks such as "THE

HOUSE BEAUTIFUL I the play lousy."  [-djh]

[Mark continued,] "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."  [-mrl]

Now, that's a good phrase.  [-djh]

John Purcell writes:

Your comments about FROM HELL IT CAME (1957) are well taken, but

personally, I adore grossly incompetent skiffy movies.  The science

fiction, fantasy, and horror genres abound with these cinematic bon

mots, especially those produced in the fifties and sixties.  They

are so much fun to heckle both while watching and reviewing them.

Now just think that when these flicks first appeared people loved

them for what they were: mindless entertainment.  That has not

changed.  I grant you that there are some good concepts and plot

ideas in many of these films--as you note in your write-up on FROM

HELL IT CAME--that are destroyed beyond recognition by the sheer

ineptitude of screenplay writers, actors, cinematographers, et al,

with the end result being brilliant stupidity preserved forever on

film.  Admit it: you love this trash just as much as I do.  [-jp]

Mark replies:

No, I really do not. I have no "guilty pleasures; I love film too

much.  If I like a film my pleasure is not guilty, your honor.



TOPIC: Musical Accompaniments to Silent Films (letters of comment

by Kip Williams and John Purcell)

In response to various comments on musical accompaniments to silent

films in the last issues, Kip writes:

Anyone who lives close enough to Norfolk, VA, should watch the Naro

schedule.  As far as I know, Chris Kypros still accompanies silent

comedies there once a year, and it's a treat. He weaves a tapestry

of reaction, and once in a while throws in a hilarious audio

reference (Harold Lloyd thinks he hears a ghost, and Chris tosses

in the 'Etranger' theme from "The Twilight Zone").  One time in

Houston, the River Oaks had a special showing of Laurel & Hardy

silent comedies with a theater organ wheeled in.  I snuck up to the

instrument during intermission because I saw a piece of paper on

the stand, and it turned out to be a simple notation of the "March

of the Cuckoos", which is indispensable for L&H.  [-kw]

John Purcell writes:

The comments about Musical Accompaniment to Silent Films reminded

me of the one time I saw BIRTH OF A NATION (1915) at Northrop

Auditorium on the University of Minnesota main campus with Steve

Glennon and Ted Meulhapt, two good friends of mine at that time.

We were all juniors (this was in early 1975) and big fans of old

movies, and definitely of the irrepressible bent in our attitudes,

and we really enjoyed the organ accompaniment that was played live

during this showing.  It was very well done, effectively blended

into the rise and fall of the action on screen.  Unfortunately, the

three of us didn't see the last half hour because we were given the

heave-ho by a couple ushers since our incessant snarky movie

commentary was pissing off many attendees surrounding us.  Oh,

well.  That was still an entertaining evening, quite possibly the

best three bucks we ever spent that semester.

Mark replies:

I would side with the complainers.  I would hate to miss a movie

because audience members stole the experience from me.  Yes, even

over a film like FROM HELL IT CAME.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Arthur Conan Doyle and Offensive Attitudes (letter of

comment by Fred Lerner)

In response to Evelyn's comments on Arthur Conan Doyle in the

10/23/20 issue of the MT VOID, Fred Lerner writes:

Evelyn wrote, "When I discussed offensive attitudes last week, and

talked about Arthur Conan Doyle, I didn't mention the most

egregious: his treatment of the Mormons in A STUDY IN SCARLET."


Remember that the events in Utah that formed the background to A

STUDY IN SCARLET occurred at around the time of the Mountain Meadow

massacre.  [-fl]


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

A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE by Arkady Martine (Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-

18643-0) won the Hugo this year and is described as a classic space

opera.  It certainly reminded me of one--I kept feeling that it was

heavily inspired by Isaac Asimov's FOUNDATION(*).  Not the whole

series, but the first book and in particular the first part, "The

Psychohistorians", in which Gael Dornick arrives at Trantor and

finds himself immersed in all sorts of politics he does not

understand, and the third part, "The Mayors", which deals with a

succession crisis.  And there's a soupcon of China Mieville's

EMBASSYTOWN, with some very linguistic stuff.

(*) One wonders if the author's name being "Arkady" is somehow

connected to this. :-)

One big difference is that the main character, Mahit Dzmare, and

about half the main supporting characters are female.  (One need

not add that Martine's portrayals of female characters is far more

accurate and less condescending than Asimov's.)  Needless to say,

this passes the Bechdel test.

Unfortunately, the book also has the bane of many science fiction

readers' existences: a glossary (nine pages) of characters, titles,

and other terms, along with two pages explaining the alphabet and

pronunciation.  It's a lose-lose situation: without a glossary, it

is too difficult to follow everyone and everything, but who wants

to keep flipping back to the glossary to figure out what's


In spite of this, however, I do recommend this book for fans of

classic space opera--its positives definitely outweigh its

negatives.  [-ecl]


                     Mark Leeper

* *

          Halloween was confusing.  All my life my parents said,

          "Never take candy from strangers."  And then they

          dressed me up and said, "Go beg for it."  I didn't know

          what to do!  I'd knock on people's doors and go, "Trick

          or treat." "No thank you."

                                          --Rita Rudner