MT VOID 09/20/96 (Vol. 15, Number 12)

MT VOID 09/20/96 (Vol. 15, Number 12)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 09/20/96 -- Vol. 15, No. 12

Table of Contents

Upcoming Meetings:

Unless otherwise stated, all meetings are in the Middletown cafeteria Wednesdays at noon.

  DATE                    TOPIC

(no meetings scheduled)

Outside events:
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/Librarian:
              Mark Leeper   MT 3E-433  908-957-5619
HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  908-957-5087
HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  908-949-7076
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
              Rob Mitchell  MT 2D-536  908-957-6330
Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  908-957-2070
Backissues available at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

URL of the week: The newly revised and revamped OMNI on-line magazine site. OMNI is now publishing *only* on-line. [-ecl]


As I was driving to work today I saw a little fat bug on the windshield. Apparently while my car was in the garage he landed on my windshield. Now when you are a bug it probably does not occur to you that a windshield is any worse than any place else to land. You probably don't even associate where you have landed with the windstorms that follow. It must have been a fairly strong little fellow. Not many bugs can withstand winds of forty miles an hour. That is what he faced when I drove at forty miles per hour, as I do on some stretches on the way to work. He probably did not understand what he had gotten himself into. I imagine that a bug does not have very good eyesight with those little compound eyes and cannot really see anything that is more than an inch or so away. All the bug knows is that he landed on something and suddenly this horrible wind started. When I stopped for a light, the bug would realize the wind had stopped and would wander around my windshield, not apparently concerned with finding someplace safer. The bug may well have even thought that his recent problems were over. But then the wind would start again and he would lower his body till it rested on the windshield and sort of grab on as well as he could and wait out the windstorm. I could not make out any fear or panic in the bug's demeanor. Not that I would recognize it if it was there. He just stood motionless as I drove and when I stopped he just sort of wandered aimlessly on the windshield, taking it all very stoically.

His stoic philosophy seemed to carry him very nicely through what for him must have been a major tribulation. It got me thinking about what life must be like for a bug his size. First of all, how long is life for a bug. I have no idea. I guessed it might be about ten weeks. Well that would make it about seventy days. So assuming a bug's time sense is somehow proportional to its life span, a day for us would be a year for him. A bug year then is divided into seasons, like ours, but his are a light season and a dark season. The light season is longer than the dark season, since bugs tend to not be around in our wintertime. During the dark season what little eyesight he has becomes a lot less powerful and he has to bide his time and wait out the season nearly blind. Luckily, this is also the safe season. If the bug thinks in terms of danger, the worst time is probably early light season when monsters come down out of the sky and swallow him and others of his kind. But at least he can be a little more active looking for food in the light season. Of course some light seasons are not as light as others. Some years there is only a dim light season. Some years that is the only difference, and that he can live with. Some dim years the balance of nature is upset and immense globules of water seem to come out of the sky and hit you wherever you stand. Most bugs know water, of course, but not in this form. Some of these streaks of water are many times the length of the bug and if you do not dodge them, they can kill you. But dodging them is nearly impossible since they are almost everywhere. In these years the eating is not very good. You have to spend the year in whatever shelter you can find. A leaf is nice for that. Perhaps you can eat of bit of the leaf, but in general it is a very bad year. Sometimes you get two or three years in a row just like that. It is lean times for a bug.

There are other dangers too. Sometimes when you eat a leaf it has a funny flavor that does not taste right for a leaf. It isn't actually the leaf that tastes bad, but something that sticks to the leaf and cannot be taken off. But food is food and you eat it anyway. You don't have much choice. Then your little bug body starts to hurt you. Then some bugs find they can't move their legs. And there is always the danger that you will kick yourself over while you are walking. Once you roll over on your back, you might as well give up. When you are on your back you can kick your legs all you want to, there is nothing to kick against. You are there until you get so hungry you die. Or maybe one of the sky monsters finds you and then you go quickly.

All this went through my mind as I drove to work. When I got to work and parked the car and my bug climbed up to the roof spread his wings and flew off. I wonder if he even realized that he was in a very different place than where he started twenty minutes earlier that morning. Do bugs recognize a particular territory? Ants do, but it is not clear bugs think in terms of territory. Or any terms at all. But this may well have been the biggest adventure he will have ever had in his short bug life. I don't know how well he fared in his new location, but I sort of wish him well. [-mrl]


(a film review by Mark R. Leeper):

Capsule: In a sweaty Mississippi town two young white men rape and nearly murder a ten-year-old black girl. The girl's father takes justice into his own hands and murders the two men in the town courthouse. The resulting trial and its resulting racial tensions touch everybody in the town. The film based on John Grisham's first novel spreads its attentions over a large number of characters, many played by familiar actors. Economically, it develops only a few, but it gives a many-sided look at a town in turmoil. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4)

John Grisham's first novel is also (reportedly) his most serious. It makes his most interesting film adaptation to date. That is in large part because it is a serious story, looking at racial tension rather than being a throwaway thriller. It makes the most satisfying of his films, if slightly over-polished and simplistic. Rather than telling one complex story, it jumps around showing a broad collection of characters, few of whom get much development but many of whom get nice rounded stories that reach conclusions. None of the individual subplots is very original or interesting, but the total is more than the some of its parts. Like a narrative mural we get a large picture made of many smaller stories of what happens during a trial and the resulting clash of townspeople at both ends of the political spectrum.

The setting is Canton, Mississippi, with its mix of small town and rural people. As the film opens we see two white men in their early twenties looking for trouble and finding it by raping and very nearly murdering a ten-year-old black girl. Unexpectedly, the girl lives and within hours the two men are behind bars. But the girl's father, Carl Lee Hailey (played by Samuel L. Jackson) is filled with rage and fear of the very real possibility that the men could end up not being punished for their crime. In a rage he hides himself in the town courthouse and the next morning as the men are being walked through he takes justice into his own hands and guns down the two men, accidentally also crippling a deputy escorting the men. For his defense he chooses a local white lawyer and acquaintance Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey), to whom Hailey had hinted the day before that he might be planning to murder the rapists. Brigance decides to use defense of temporary insanity, though it is relatively obvious that the killing was an angry act of revenge but not insanity. Through Brigance we meet his daughter and his wife (Ashley Judd) who is reluctant to have her husband take the emotionally-charged case. We also meet Brigance's old law professor (Donald Sutherland), now disbarred and enjoying a drunken retirement. Kevin Spacey plays an ambitious and tricky prosecutor wanting to ride the case to bigger things, and Patrick McGoohan plays the aptly-named Judge Noose. Most unlikely seeming, is the arrival of a brilliant, attractive law student, Ellen Roark (Sandra Bullock) anxious to bull her way onto the defense team with an impressive arsenal of legal knowledge. But the trial also beings a revival of the dormant Ku Klux Klan threatening everybody on the defense team.

Director Joel Schumacher's strong suit has us usually been setting and mood. This was certainly the case with his brooding Gothic medical school in FLATLINERS and his oversized but under-thought BATMAN FOREVER. His Mississippi town is less exaggerated, but little details seem to be intentionally carried a bit too far. Housewife Ashley Judd looks to be laminated in sweat, as if she was sprayed with Pam, but only from the neck down and no other character is sweating nearly so profusely. As the Klan walks into town a plate glass window reflects them as three times their height--Schumacher's visual sense often plays with size--and far more intimidating than they actually are. Peter Menzies, Jr., gives the film's photography a somewhat more subdued feel than previous Schumacher films, but the director's style is still there.

A TIME TO KILL has been compared to Robert Mulligan's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and naturally it falls considerably short of that film. But the two films are related only in subject matter. I would be more likely to compare A TIME TO KILL to Spike Lee's DO THE RIGHT THING in its breadth rather than depth view of the people affected by the trial. This film is really not moving and perhaps not even greatly intelligent in the way that TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was, but it gives a feel for Southern politics and law better than other Grisham films and it tells its story engrossingly. I give it a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale. [-mrl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   MT 3E-433 908-957-5619

Quote of the Week:

     Whoever is not a misanthrope at forty can never
     have loved mankind.
                                   --Nicholas Chamfort