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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
07/27/07 -- Vol. 26, No. 4, Whole Number 1451
Table of Contents
The Top Ten Weird and Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
For all Worldcon-goers:
Not even a mention of Pocari Sweat! [-mrl]
Crosswords(comments by Mark R. Leeper):
I was looking at our newspaper recycle stack and there was a stack of single sheets, which had crossword puzzles that Evelyn had worked. I suggested she should pass them to me to work when she was done with them. "What would be the point? They have already been done," she asked. "Ah, but you did them in pencil. That is the easy way. I would do them in pen!" [-mrl]
Remembering Numbers (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
One of the topics I like to share here is my little devices that I have invented to make my life easier. I have written about my technique to diagram the characters and action of a story. I also described what I call a technique of "cheat" reading of books. This is a way I have of essentially creating for myself a condensation of a book that can be read more quickly but to not miss most of the essential action. I have been meaning to explain the technique I use to remember numbers. I did not invent this one, but I find it useful and have taught it to a few other people.
It is based on the assumption that words are easier to remember than numbers. When you need to remember a number, it is easier to remember words than digits. Each of the ten digits correspond to a unique set of phonetic consonant sounds, each of which sounds much like the others that get mapped to the same digit.
Suppose you wish to remember the phone number 732-681-7141. That is a difficult phone number to retain. Instead I remember the phrase "Come now. Jeff dog-tired." That phrase is much easier to remember than the phone number. Yet I can memorize the phrase and quickly turn it back into the phone number.
So what is the mapping of phonetics to digits?
1 is mapped to "t", to "d" and to "th". To remember this just think that "t" and "d" have a vertical stroke like a "1" does.
2 is mapped to "n". To remember this just think that "n" has a straight bar and an arch like "2" does.
3 is mapped to "m". To remember this just think that "m" has two arches like "3" does.
4 is mapped to "r". To remember this just think that the fourth letter of the word "four" is an "r".
5 is mapped to "l". To remember this just think that "l" if you open your hand wide so that your thumb and pinky and your hand form an "l" you will see all five fingers.
6 is mapped to "sh", to "j" and to "zh". Also a soft "g". To remember this just think that six sounds like sex which you hush up. (OK, sorry about that, but that is how I remember it.)
7 is mapped to "k", to hard "g" and to hard "c". To remember this just think that "k" is a vertical stroke and two strokes that look like a "7".
8 is mapped to "f" and "v". To remember this just think that a script "f" looks like an "8".
9 is mapped to "p", and to "b". To remember this just think that a "p" or "b" looks like an "9" flipped around.
0 is mapped to "s", to "z" and to soft "c". To remember this just think that a "z" is the first letter of "zero".
There is no mapping for "h" and "w" so those can be used as needed.
The phone number above starts with 732. That can be "cumin" or "come on" or "come now" or "cue ham now" or "game now." It takes some imagination to find words that seem better than gibberish. The entire number 732-681-7141 comes from the phrase "Come now. Jeff dog-tired." or "Come (73) now (2). Jeff (68) dog (17)-tired (141)."
One time on a "Dress-Down Day" I wore a T-shirt that had printed on it pi to some large number of places. A friend saw it and without looking recited the value of pi to 40 decimal places. In high school he had spent two afternoons and memorized pi to 40 decimal places. I told him I was impressed. I then retired to my office. Ten minutes later I walked into his office and without looking recited the value of pi to 60 decimal places.
Of course, I have now forgotten those phrases but can come up with some new ones. He probably still remembers his 40. But I can repeat my feat with a little effort.
Consider these nonsense phrases:
Motor to Alpine Jail, male VP.
Keep my name fresh, Nature Mama.
Foe man, keep losin' favor to big-dish bomb.
(Note that the "t" in "Nature" is pronounced like a "ch" so it becomes a 6.)
Perhaps the greatest effort is trying to turn the sentences into more than just random words. Those are nonsense phrases, but perhaps not a lot harder to memorize than three lines of Shakespeare. If I go to the numerical equivalent I have
That is 45 decimal places of pi. The problem with mnemonic devices is that you have to remember the mnemonic. [-mrl]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
[This continues the description of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle.]
As I noted earlier, there is now one admission for both the Science Fiction Museum and EMP (the Experience Music Project). So we went through EMP, but fairly quickly, because there was little of interest. One room was devoted to the history of the guitar, mildly interesting from a technical standpoint, but not enthralling. The Jimi Hendrix room was even less interesting, and the hands-on stuff had no appeal for us. The "Northwest Passage", a corridor about local groups, broadcasting, and so on--was completely foreign to me. What we did see of all these took a total about about forty-five minutes.
There was one display, a temporary one, that was of interest to us--"Disney: The Music Behind the Magic". This had a video about the history of music in Disney films. We missed the first few minutes, which covered "Steamboat Willie" (in which Mickey Mouse was making music), "Snow White", "Dumbo", and "Fantasia". We came in at "Pinocchio", which was described as a prototype of the action-adventure film, and one of the first to have themes (leitmotifs) for each character. After this came "Bambi", more pastoral, more of a tone poem, and with definite influences from Igor Stravinsky.
They then skipped ahead to "The Little Mermaid", mostly because I think they were covering animated films first, then live action. The claim was that "The Little Mermaid" had been the first fully integrated musical (one in which the songs move the story) since the 1960s. That is not just the first Disney musical, but the first anybody had made.
They talked about how many of the films not have an "I want" moment: in "Cinderella" it is "Someday My Prince Will Come"; in "The Little Mermaid" it is "Part of That World". Some reviewer had said of "Beauty and the Beast" that "the best Broadway musical" was now on screen rather than stage.
Apparently the technique used is to write the songs before the story is complete, so that they can be incorporated properly. "The Lion King" was the most successful musical, with more pop music, and song-over-action ("The Circle of Life") as well as songs to propel plot ("I Just Can't Wait to Be King").
It was commented that "Whole New World" and "Beauty and the Beast" are sung everywhere: high school graduations, etc.
Leonard Maltin described "Mary Poppins" has having "exposition set to music." There was no mention of Disney's most recent live-action musical, "Newsies", nor of the song "A Whale of a Tale" from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea".
Everyone kept talking about "Walt Disney's music," but of course, it's not his music, but that of various composers. (Someone in the video did actually note this.)
One comment--the videos in the EMP section were shown on a big screen, while it was tiny screens for most of the science fiction (the "Cities" one was on a fifteen-foot wide screen that was maybe four feet high).
This was a fairly long video (probably about a half hour). The display "Disney: The Music Behind the Magic" began with "Steamboat Willie" (1928). There was a chance to hear eight different versions of "When You Wish upon a Star", most of which were unappealing.
The film "Bambi" had less than 950 words of dialogue.
The "Mickey Mouse Club" had versions in the 1950s, 1970s, and 1990s. The latter had Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilar, and Britney Spears.
All this took another hour or so. We were about to leave the EMP and return to the Science Fiction Museum for another hour or so when we noticed that "Sound & Vision: Artists Tell Their Stories" included science fiction authors. They probably put the science fiction ones there because they had the technology, but there is no indication in the Science Fiction Museum of it, and before the single-admission policy, people who went to only the Science Fiction Museum could not see this.
We watched clips of Ray Harryhausen talking about animating skeletons, and Frederik Pohl on the first Worldcon. A clip on writing included Greg Bear, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Harry Harrison, and Connie Willis.
"What Is Science Fiction?" had answers from George Lucas, and Connie Willis, who quoted Judith Merril as saying that science fiction was a giant thought experiment in which you change one premise and see the results. Willis also cited Ben Bova and a panel of NASA scientists who decided that it was when science was at the center, science drove the plot, and it was real science. Willis said that it ruled out a lot of what people consider science fiction, and Bova said, "Yes, but none of mine." James Cameron noted that science fiction is not predictive (no writers predicted the PC revolution).). [Murray Leinster's "A Logic Named Joe (1946)", which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/28q5yx, comes fairly close. -mrl] It also had Steven Spielberg, David Gerrold, Harlan Ellison, and Samuel R. Delany.
Another clip on conventions had Greg Bear and several other people. David Gerrold talked about his first panel, where he was seated between Isaac Asimov and Hal Clement, and quite intimidated about his position as a "newbie". Harry Harrison told about a young man who came up to him during the Vietnam era and said he had enlisted, then went home and happened to read "Bill, the Galactic Hero", and immediately tore up his enlistment papers. (Apparently, there was a waiting period at that time.) Astrid Anderson Bear talked about her first costume, as a baby vampire bat ("if a baby cat is a kitten, then a baby bat is a bittne").
The filmmaking clip had Dennis Muren ("E.T."), Ray Harryhausen (stop-motion in "Mighty Joe Young"), James Cameron ("Alien" queen), Harlan Ellison (his usual rant about Hollywood), and David Gerrold ("Star Trek")
We finished up with another half-hour or so in the Science Fiction Museum, until closing time.
And now for general and summary comments.
The rooms in the Science Fiction Museum are way under-lit--bring a flashlight if you want to be able to take notes, or even see some of the labels a little better. (The cases are reasonably well lit, but the rooms themselves are really dark.)
Someone said she did not like the Museum because it was not someplace you could go many times. She had asked them if they would be rotating the magazine covers, but after seeing the exhibits, I think this would not be very easy, because the exhibits are all themed. (You could swap in new ones for BEMs and Babes", I suppose.) The art exhibit does rotate, I think.
Both of these museums were created/funded by Paul Allen, and a lot of the items in the cases in the Science Fiction Museum are from his private collection. This is why there is this strange combination of two museums in one building. It is true that the price is now higher than the price before, but 1) most people will probably get *something* more than we did out of the EMP, and 2) people can now use the "Sound & Vision" for the science fiction clips (assuming, of course, that they know about them).
Is the museum worth it? For a science fiction fan visiting Seattle, definitely. But it is not a "destination museum" in the way as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or El Prado, or even the Cosmosphere (Hutchinson, Kansas). And one can argue that a lot of what ones sees is similar to the displays at science fiction conventions, though obviously on a much larger scale.
The website for the Museum is at http://www.sfhomeworld.org.
In keeping with the theme, and to promote the "Star Wars" stamps that will be released May 25, a mailbox near the Museum had been painted to look like R2D2. See http://www.uspsjedimaster.com for more details.
This concludes the description of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. Finally.] [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity. -- George Bernard Shaw John Bull's Other Island
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