Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society

03/19/21 -- Vol. 39, No. 38, Whole Number 2163

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Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, * *

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Mini Reviews, Part 10 (THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND;


(film reviews by Mark R. Leeper)

George Pal and Walter Lantz, and Pet Intelligence

(letter of comment by Kip Williams)

Product Placements (letter of comment by Daniel Cox)

This Week's Reading (Dr. Seuss) (book comments

by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 10 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper)

Here is the tenth batch of mini-reviews, dramas about people with

personality disorders.

THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND: This working-class neighborhood comedy-

drama is set in the same kind of neighborhood as Barry Levinson's

classic DINER, but in Staten Island instead of Baltimore.  Pete

Davison plays Scott Carlin as a loser would-be tattoo artist with

ADD and a host of other problems.  Writer-director Judd Apatow (who

co-wrote with Davison and Dave Sirus) has a good ear for dialogue

and gives the film a strong working-class feel.  Released on VOD

06/12/20, after its planned theatrical release was cancelled due to

the pandemic.  Rating: +2 (-4 to +4)

ON THE ROCKS: Laura (Rashida Jones) has been given a gift by her

father (Bill Murray) who hangs around and has an Iago-like

relationship with his daughter.  The father and daughter discuss

life and sex.  Bill Murray's personality is intended to be

endearing but after a while his personality is just grating

Released 10/02/20; available on Apple TV+.  Rating: +1 (-4 to +4)

STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN: This is billed as a comedy/drama but

there is nothing really funny.  It has the feel of being done

impromptu based on Billy Crystal's friends.  Crystal plays a

character who has many different personalities depending on his

setting.  Crystal can be still very funny with jokes.  When Crystal

does some serious drama, Crystal is very funny with jokes.

Released 02/21/20; available on Amazon Prime streaming.  Rating:

+1 (-4 to +4)



TOPIC: George Pal and Walter Lantz, and Pet Intelligence (letter of

comment by Kip Williams)

In response to Greg Frederick's comments on George Pal and Walter

Lantz in the 03/12/21 issue of

the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:

[Greg Frederick writes,] "...George Pal and Walter Lantz were


This also explains a moment in TOM THUMB (I put movie titles in all

caps routinely, but the actual title of this movie is all lower

case) where Tom is doing a toy parade and you can distinctly hear

the famous Woody Woodpecker laugh come out of nowhere.

Re your closing quote [about dogs and intelligence], I drew a

cartoon once of a human petting a cat and saying, "If only you

could talk," and the cat's thinking, "If only you could stop."


I can see it as a New Yorker cartoon. [-mrl]


TOPIC: Product Placements (letter of comment by Daniel Cox)

In response to Evelyn's comments on product placement in ENEMY MINE

in the 03/12/21 issue of the MT VOID, Daniel Cox writes:

Product placements are often unbelievable in movies, and can break

the immersion when done clumsily.  But the idea that one of the two

big cola products would last 100 years does not seem far-fetched to

me.  Even more so if the counting starts in 1985, close to the

height of the "cola wars".  At that time, Coca-Cola was 99 years

old.  The name "Pepsi Cola" was 87 years old, and the drink was 92.



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

"Read Across America" day happened this year, but without the usual

references to Dr. Seuss, whose birthday is originally celebrated.

In fact, not only is Dr. Seuss being minimized, but his publisher

announced that six of his books will no longer be published: "And

to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street", "McElligot's Pool", "On

Beyond Zebra", "If I Ran the Zoo", "Scrambled Eggs Super!", and

"The Cat's Quizzer".  (The oldest of these, "And to Think That I

Saw It on Mulberry Street", was published in 1937, so will not

enter the public domain until 2033.)

Oddly, it is the latter that has all the right-wing commentators'

panties in a twist.  Apparently free-market capitalism is only for

the right-wing; companies that show any left-wing tendencies must

be compelled (presumably by the government) to publish books they

do not want to, even though they own the copyright (so much for

private property and personal freedom).  This also seems to apply

to trademarked properties: the right wing is insisting that Hasbro

should continue to manufacture "Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head" rather

than just "Potato Head".  (The fuss over the Muppets is different--

Disney is not holding episodes back, but rather running content

warnings before episodes that "have not aged well.")

And what are the objectionable parts of the Dr. Seuss books?  In

"And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" (1937) there is a

reference to "a Chinese man who eats with sticks" and a cartoon

drawing with a caricature of a Chinese man with a rice bowl,

chopsticks, a conical hat, and slanted eyes.  (When first

published, it was a "Chinaman" with bright yellow skin and a long

braid (both removed in 1978), so changes have already occurred.)

However, there are also the lines, "Say--anyone could think of

that, / Jack or Fred or Joe or Nat-- / Say, even Jane could think

of that" , which Dr. Seuss refused to change at that time.

"McElligot's Pool" (1947) talks about "some Eskimo fish"; "Eskimo"

is a term that has fallen into disfavor (similarly to "colored" and

"Oriental" in referring to people).

"If I Ran the Zoo" (1950) has a plethora of objectionable images:

Africans with grass skirts and tall top knots, Chinese men with

conical hats and Japanese(!) shoes, Russians with big mustaches and

fur hats, Persian princes with curved toe slippers, and so on.

All of the non-white characters are shown as porters or other

subservient characters.

"Scrambled Eggs Super!" (1953) is unavailable to me.  (Suddenly all

the discontinued books are going for ludicrous prices on-line, and

all the library copies are checked out--probably in many cases to

be conveniently "lost," so it's harder to find some of them.  eBay

has banned them entirely, though it was a bit of a Whack-a-Mole

game when I looked--new listings appeared as fast as the old ones

were removed.)

I always had an affection for "On Beyond Zebra!" (1955), not for

the words or the pictures, but for the concept that there were more

letters to the alphabet.  (Frankly, Seuss's letters look totally

unrelated to our alphabet.  And our alphabet already has seven

"lost" letters: eth ("th" as in "thing"), thorn ("th" as in

"then"), wynn ("w"), yogh (gutteral "ch"), ash (ae ligature),

insular g (various pronunciations), and ethel (oe ligature).

I love alphabets.  I think the Georgian alphabet and the Cambodian

alphabet are beautiful, and the Korean alphabet is very geometric,

and the small differences between related alphabets (such as the

Nordic languages) are fascinating.  So it's not surprising that I

would find "On Beyond Zebra!" right up my alley.

The objection seems to be to the illustration (and perhaps the

name) of the "Nazzim of Bazzim".

"The Cat's Quizzer" (1976) has a couple of references to the

Japanese.  One is a question, "How old do you have to be to be

Japanese?" with a cartoon of a man with a bowl-shaped hat standing

by a torii gate.  But the real objection may be that the man's skin

is colored bright yellow, which is also the color of the sky.  (No

other character has skin that matches the sky, so that's not a

choice one sees anywhere else in the book.)  There's also a (trick)

question about whether the Japanese eat with pogo sticks or joss

sticks.  On the whole, the book is really dumb, with serious

questions mixed in with trick questions, and designed to cash in on

Dr. Seuss's general popularity instead of being at all interesting.

Then again, I'm not the target audience.  [-ecl]


                     Mark Leeper

* *

          When I want to read a novel, I write one.

                                          --Benjamin Disraeli