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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 04/26/96 -- Vol. 14, No. 43
Table of Contents
Unless otherwise stated, all meetings are in the Middletown cafeteria Wednesdays at noon.
DATE TOPIC 04/26 Special Activity: Dinner & Ice Cream, Fri, 7PM Terri's/Scoop deVille, Ramsey, NJ 05/11 Author William McCay @ S.F.A.B.C. meeting. Sat, 8PM Saddle River Cultural Center, Upper Saddle River, NJ 06/25 JEOPARDY (starring our own Rob Mitchell) (check local TV listings)
The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-933-2724 for details. The New Jersey Science Fiction Society meets on the third Saturday of every month in Belleville; call 201-432-5965 for details.
MT Chair: Mark Leeper MT 3F-434 908-957-5619 email@example.com HO Chair: John Jetzt MT 2E-530 908-957-5087 firstname.lastname@example.org HO Librarian: Nick Sauer HO 4F-427 908-949-7076 email@example.com MT Librarian: Mark Leeper MT 3F-434 908-957-5619 firstname.lastname@example.org Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell MT 2D-536 908-957-6330 email@example.com Factotum: Evelyn Leeper MT 1F-337 908-957-2070 firstname.lastname@example.org Backissues available at http://www-gbcs.mt.lucent.com/~ecl/MTVOID/backissues.html or http://sf.www.lysator.liu.se/sf_archive/sf-texts/MT_Void/. All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.
URL of the week:
http://sf.www.lysator.liu.se/sf_archive/sf_main.html. *The* basic SF site. Has *lots* of science fiction reference materials, lists of awards, author bibliographies, pointers to others sites, etc. Also has back issues of the MT VOID. [-ecl]
The Hugo nominees for 1995 and 1945 (Retro-Hugos) have been announced and are included at the end of this issue. A few random observations:
William Rotsler was nominated for Best Fan Artist in both years. Isaac Asimov was also nominated for both years, giving him a total of three nominations this year.
Two "Captain Future" stories were nominated, one from 1945, one from 1995.
A talking pig story was nominated. It wasn't BABE.
One magazine's editors appeared on both lists. (Okay, it did have a name change in between.)
A Canadian and an Australian were nominated for each year. On the whole, however, the 1995 slate is almost as USA-centric as 1945, though it does have one Briton. (It does have more women, though, and more Jews.)
Of the 1945 fiction nominees, 3 are still alive (Clement, Tucker, and Van Vogt). Knock wood. [-ecl]
I had not intended to say more on martial arts after last week's comments, but I have given it more thought and realize that there is more to say.
At least initially, perhaps a child who knows martial arts has a degree of protection, but only initially. But place yourself in one of these schools. What is your reaction if you get into conflict with someone who is a trained martial artist? You can fight back, but that would be stupid since the people you would be fighting would be trained fighters and would have the edge. You would look for the quick solution to your problem and the quick answer may be simply to get a gun. And a certain percentage will do just that. The effect of making young people in school better able to fight is that it raises the standard and everybody has to be better able to fight in any way they can. Like it or not, a young person who learns to kick people is going to school armed and it naturally is going to make any other kids want to be armed one way or another. And some will do it by any means necessary, including the quick solution of bringing firearms to school. Perhaps not immediately and perhaps not in suburbs as fast as in inner cities, but it will happen. Security based on one mode of fighting tends to be short-lived. In 1945 it appeared to the US that that the world was a safer place because we had developed nuclear weapons, but by 1955 the common consensus was just the opposite. And isn't the same thing happening on a smaller scale in the schools?
We have to ask ourselves if this martial arts mania is only fueling violence in schools. When you send a young person to school armed with the ability to hurt someone else, you have to expect he will get into conflicts with other kids who are armed one way or another. Supposedly the martial arts schools and the NRA each teach their practitioners how to be responsible with the skills they advocate, but there is certainly some question in each case if the statistics back up the claims. Just like (in spite of claims of the NRA) that if you have a gun around the house you are much more likely to get shot yourself, sending a young person to school armed is much more likely to get him into an armed conflict. Aren't there better ways to teach children self-discipline than as a by-product of learning how to fight? It is unclear to me that there is anything useful to be gained from the discipline of learning a martial art that could not be gained from learning to play a musical instrument.
Robert A. Heinlein said: "An armed society is a polite society." And there are people who really think that way, most of whom have never visited real armed societies. (One suspects the only armed society Heinlein ever saw until late in his career was the military and that is certainly not typical. Armed societies are not polite, they are societies like the Old West in which there is constant struggle to establish the pecking order and there are a lot of people hurt establishing that order. I have visited armed societies I can tell you the standard of common politeness there is considerably lower and not higher than other parts of the world. An armed society is a dangerous society and not at all a polite one. And an armed society is not a good place to learn.
Training kids to fight only starts a small scale arms race in the schools and the next step is generally escalation. It certainly means that other kids are going to have to find some way to defend themselves in whatever way they can. Kids should be taught how to cooperate, to understand their opponent, and to get along in the face of disagreement--basic conflict avoidance skills. Teaching them how to fight may (or may not) give them some temporary confidence, but in the end they have less real security. It has the opposite effect from what was planned and it makes knowing how to fight an absolute necessity. It helps to protect the kids from the problem that it itself has created just like nuclear arms were absolutely necessary for protecting the country from the threat of other powers having nuclear arms. They give a little--and only a little--protection from the problems that they themselves caused. Just like rating systems of films do, which was where this whole discussion began. [-mrl]
More on Martial Arts:
As a counterpoint to this series of editorial, the following is contributed by Alan Gopin, himself a Black Belt:
I found your article to show a total lack of understanding of what the martial arts are supposed to be about. The martial arts are *not* about kicking the crap out of people. If all you know about the martial arts is what you see in the movies, I could understand how you could get that opinion, but particularly in your case, I would have expected better. Given the number of movies you have trashed for playing fast and loose with history or the facts, I would have thought that you know that movies play fast and loose with what the martial arts are supposed to be about.
What the martial arts are really about are inner peace, self discipline, and knowing your potential. In my school, every class starts with the students reciting the tenets of Taekwondo:
Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverence, Self Control, Indomitable Spirit.
Every class ends with the student oath:
I intend to develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that would reduce my mental growth or physical health. I intend to develop self-discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others. I intend to use what I learn in class constructively and defensively, to help myself and others, and never to be abusive or offensive.
My department at work has three core values that we live by: Quality, Integrity, and Teamwork. At the dojang, we have the five tenets. The purpose of both of these is the same, and they get similar results. At work, we reinforce these values with organizational training and by the example everyone else sets. In the martial arts, we reinforce them with rituals, the way we address each other, and by the effort we put into our training. The people who honestly live by these values are better people for it.
The martial arts teach their practitioners another important lesson. You can do more than you ever imagined you could. Getting a black belt was one of the most important milestones in my life, at a level with getting married, being bar mitzvahed, or becoming a parent. The black belt test was the most difficult physical ordeal I have ever had to face. Training for it made me a better person physically. Surviving it changed my perspective on what's easy and what's difficult, and showed me that I was really living the tenets of Taekwondo.
Finally, anything can be abused, and I'm sure that there are people who have been taught fighting techniques who abuse that knowledge to hurt people. But they are not martial artists. It's called martial *arts* because it is an art form. Watch some of my instructors do forms and this will become obvious. They have all the grace of a dancer, a figure skater, or a gymnast. [-amg]
[I guess what I see happening is kids taking martial arts instead of going into something like the Cub Scouts. When I was in the Cub Scouts we tried to build the same virtues, but we did it in large part through community service of one form or another. I specifically remember running bingo games in a nursing home and collecting food for famine relief. With the possible exception of what is called above "indomitable spirit," I think it stressed the same virtues, plus the very important one of service to others. I would assume that bringing out the best in oneself would have a large component of unselfish activity. Maybe Alan or some other reader can comment on what martial arts classes do to instill the value of service to others. -mrl]
In response to comments on Usenet regarding the whether Disney will put a happy ending on their version of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, and what their next "prettied-up" classic would be, Peter Reiher (email@example.com) posted:
I've always felt that "Macbeth" is a natural for Disney. They could even re-use some songs from their previous films, with perhaps a few minor lyric alterations. For example Macbeth and his wife could sing "Be Our Guest" during the murder of Duncan -
"Kill our guest, Kill our guest! Watch us stab Into your chest! We so sorry that we woke you, But it's truly for the best. Don't resist, Don't fight back, Just accept Another hack, Slump your body to the floor, so We can hack away your torso. Ravaged throat, Severed spine, Soon your kingdom Will be mine! Three weird sisters said so, Aren't you impressed? Who would have thought such gore From out of you could pour? So stab our guest, Hack our guest, Kill our guest!"
Malcolm could sing to his men "Can You Move the Wood Tonight," and Banquo's ghost could serenade Macbeth with "You've Never Killed a Friend Like Me."
Well, it might work better than "The Hunchback of Notre Dame Lite," at least. [-Peter Reiher]
COLD FEVER (a film review by Mark R. Leeper):
Capsule: A young Japanese travels across Iceland to visit the site where his parents died seven years earlier in this US-Icelandic- German-Danish co-production. Masatoshi Nagase stars as the bewildered traveler who must figure out the rules of this strange land, often just to stay alive. This is a modest, unassuming little story co-written by the film's producer, Jim Stark and the film's director Fridrik Thor Fridriksson. It does for Iceland what Bill Forsyth films do for Scotland, present an affectionate if not entirely credible look at an eccentric but likable people. Rating: Low +2 (-4 to +4)
Atsushi Hirata is a stranger in a strange land. He wanted to spend his holiday in Hawaii, but his grandfather talked him into an unusual family responsibility. He has to trek across Iceland in the dead of winter to the remote spot where his parents died seven years before. There he must perform a traditional Japanese memorial ceremony. Any journey through unfamiliar territory can be a mixture of comedy and horrors and in the frozen Iceland of December the right (or wrong) error could prove fatal. (One ominous road sign asks in several languages "Does anyone know you are going this way?") In Jim Stark's and Fridrik Thor Fridriksson's screenplay characters time and again find they must put themselves in each other's hands or volunteer help to others. Sometimes it proves to be a wise thing to do; sometimes it is a mistake.
The most active character in the story is the landscape of Iceland, a colorless combination of fog, ice, snow, and black rock. Sometimes it looks dead only to come to life unpredictably spouting volcanic geysers of hot water into the air. In this mostly frozen world Atsushi is a fish out of water, trying to understand the strange Icelandic people and the rules they live by. Notable among the people he meets are a woman who claims to collect funerals (or rather pictures and recordings of them), a bar of Icelanders who consider themselves cowboys, and an incredibly rude and vulgar American couple. Sometimes Atsushi finds that going with the flow of the people around him is dangerous, but sometimes fighting the tide is worse.
Atsushi Hirata is played by Masatoshi Nagase, who seems to be specializing in the role of Japanese tourist abroad. He played a similar character in Jim Jarmusch's MYSTERY TRAIN. His character does not convey a lot of emotion that is obvious to a Western audience. And much of his character's appeal is in the empathy of what he must be feeling rather than his expressiveness. Fisher Stevens and Lili Taylor play the American couple whom Atsushi finds much more trouble helping than it seems worth. Much more appealing is the morbid but pleasant fan of funerals, Laura, played by Laura Hughes.
Not all that is in the script is original or even in good taste. To create artificially some visual excitement on the first scene of the frozen landscape of Iceland, Fridriksson borrows a touch from THE ROAD WARRIOR. There seem to be some scenes poking fun at the lack of appeal of Icelandic cuisine that seem a little over the top. The moral of the story and what Atsushi has learned from his experience is a line simply spoken at the end of the film and seems a bit pat and uninspiring. Except perhaps for its setting this film is not going to win any awards for originality or profundity or even for being highly articulate of its theme. But it is as amiable a film as many playing at local theaters and from time to time even manages a few surprises.
COLD FEVER is a likable if somewhat unoriginal road picture, even it may not have much to say other than to accept Icelanders however weird their customs are. One wonders if the beautiful but forbidding vistas of Icelandic landscapes, looking like views of another world, will help or hurt Iceland's tourist business. The film itself rates a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale. [-mrl]
1996 Hugo Nominees & 1946 Retro Hugo Nominees:
1996 HUGO AWARD NOMINEES
Plans are pending at press time to make as many nominees as possible available on L.A.con III's World Wide Web site, http://lacon3.worldcon.org/.
Mark Leeper MT 3F-434 908-957-5619 firstname.lastname@example.org
Quote of the Week:
School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, brutal violations of common sense and common decency. --H. L. Mencken