MT VOID 12/28/12 -- Vol. 31, No. 26, Whole Number 1734

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
12/28/12 -- Vol. 31, No. 26, Whole Number 1734

Table of Contents

      Han Solo: Mark Leeper, Princess Leia: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material is copyrighted by author unless otherwise noted. All comments sent will be assumed authorized for inclusion unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to To unsubscribe, send mail to

Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups (NJ)

January 3: AVALON, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, film at 6:30PM
January: THE PUPPET MASTERS (1994), novel by Robert A. Heinlein, 
	Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM; discussion after the 
January 17: TRIGGERS by Robert J. Sawyer, Old Bridge (NJ) Public 
	Library, 7PM (note this is the *third* Thursday)
February 21: TBD, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
March 28: THE RAPTURE OF THE NERDS by Cory Doctorow and Charles 
	Stross, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM

Speculative Fiction Lectures:

January 5: Jennifer Perrson (President, Garden State Speculative 
	Fiction Writers), Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N
February 2: Hildy Steveman and Neal Levin on the business side of 
	writing, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N
March 2: Ginjer Buchanan (Editor-in-Chief, Ace and Roc Books), 
	Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:

Congress by the Numbers (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

The fiscal cliff is looming. There is a resignation that Congress is still divided. But most people agree with a Congress like we have it is better to see them divided than to see them multiplied. [-mrl]

My Picks for Turner Classic Movies for January (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

This is my monthly guide to what I consider to be good movies on Turner Classic Movies, but films you might not have otherwise heard of. All times are Eastern time zone. I have no connection to the Turner organization or to whatever authority decides what clocks will be set to on the Eastern seaboard.

Sadly, classic movies rarely are seen on television any more. The time was when several television stations ran old movies at 11:30 PM. That is no longer true with the coming of 1) video, 2) cable, and 3) a younger generation of viewers coming aboard. The latter has been happening while the generation of fans of current films back in the 1930s and 1940s is dying off. The demand is just not there any more. For a while there were only two cable channels that were seriously into showing older films, American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Movies. It has now been several years since AMC sold out to the four C's: Color, Cutting, Commercials, and Crap. Those who want to keep in touch with the history of cinema have only TCM left. This is a bit of a slow month, but there are still a few worthwhile films to see.

RIFIFI (1955) is a very finely crafted heist film. Made in France in 1955 with an American director, Jules Dassin, it is best remembered for a very poignant visual image toward the end of the film. But it is a tense gangster film, beautifully plotted, beautifully written, beautifully shot. A gang of robbers plans in detail a clever jewel heist. But getting the jewelry is one thing and holding on to it is something else. Jules Dassin who directs also directed THE NAKED CITY (1948) and NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950). He makes some interesting choices. The robbery itself, which is shown in meticulous detail, is done without any talk and without music. The viewer is more or less forced to keep his eyes glued to the screen to follow the story. Also contributing to the real-feel of the story is the fact that it does not have familiar faces. Dassin kept the budget low by working with unfamiliar actors, but one can just tell from the first frame that this is going to be a quality film. [Wednesday, January 2, 12:00 AM (That is Tuesday into Wednesday)]

I expect that the reader is already familiar with Jack Arnold's SF films, but this is a slow month so I have fewer unknown films to recommend. So ... Universal Pictures assigned Arnold to make some B-films for them to fill out double bills, and they gave him the option of making westerns or science fiction films. Arnold later said he did not know how to manage horses, so he chose science fiction. He years later had an experience he shared with Georges Melies and Buster Keaton, an unexpected revival of interest. Arnold had thought the films he had made were seen at the time and quickly forgotten. But of course in the 1960s his films showed up on television and won themselves a following that they never really had in the theaters. It was only late in his life that he found out that books were referring to a kind of film called "the Jack Arnold science fiction film." Four of the best will be shown Friday evening to Saturday morning January 4 and 5. Showing will be:

     8:00 PM    Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
     9:30 PM    Tarantula (1955)
    11:00 PM    The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
    12:30 AM    It Came From Outer Space (1953)

Christopher Lee claims that he really did not want to play Dracula so many times for Hammer films, but they used guilt to keep him coming back again and again. The producers told him that if he did not make another Dracula film then that would leave the rest of the crew without work. He claims he did not want to put so many friends out of work, so kept coming back for their sake. My question then is why did he keep making so many Fu Manchu films, which ran out of quality very quickly in their run. In any case for some reason Christopher Lee took up the villainous role played previously most famously by Boris Karloff, four times by Werner Oland (the Swede who played Asians four times in this series and also in THE WEREWOLF OF LONDON), and 23 times in silent films by H. Agar Lyons. The first and best of Christopher Lee's five Fu Manchu movies--made in as many years from 1965 to 1969--was THE FACE OF FU MANCHU. I cannot say it is a good film, but it is quite watchable. [Wednesday, January 9, 6:30 PM]

Most film fans will probably know MGM's semi-horror potboiler GASLIGHT in which a sinister Charles Boyer convinces Ingrid Bergman that she is going mad. If you have not seen it, it is worth watching. [Tuesday, January 22, 7:30 AM] But there is an earlier version that MGM tried to suppress. It is the English film GASLIGHT (aka ANGEL STREET) from 1940. Anton Walbrook threatens the sanity of Diana Wynyard. It is a more modest production, but quite good also. [Wednesday, January 16, 8:30 AM]

My pick for the best of the month would be any of the Jack Arnold films you have not seen and then the marvelous RIFIFI. [-mrl]

LES MISÉRABLES (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: Tom Hooper takes the now classic stage musical and makes of it a film even more spectacular, sweeping, and poignant. It covers nearly the entire emotional spectrum possible. LES MISÉRABLES is a moving film experience to be treasured. I consider it the best film I have seen in years. Rating: +4 (-4 to +4) or 10/10

The play LES MISÉRABLES by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg was and remains a very successful international theatrical hit, as moving today as it was twenty-five years ago. To bring it to the screen, director Tom Hooper (THE KING'S SPEECH) seems to have given considerable thought to what is lost and gained translating a stage play to cinema and specifically what can be done in cinema that cannot be done in live theater. The very the opening sequence has maybe a hundred prisoners being human winches pulling an enormous ship into dry dock with only muscle power on long ropes.

The new film version is shot with an active camera--perhaps a little too active--that allows us to see emotions on actors' faces as well as splendidly beautiful backgrounds. Political references in the play can be made more understandable in the film. Having a handful of actors on stage giving throat to spirited calls for revolution in the play cannot compete with scenes of the barricades being built twenty feet high and seeing a small group of students facing off against rows of armed soldiers.

The Victor Hugo novel is one of the great works of literature, so describing the plot here is like describing the plot of HAMLET. Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean, a released prisoner. His crimes were stealing bread for his hungry family and later a few prison escape attempts. The law requires that he show his passport as a former prisoner and he is beaten and reviled wherever he goes. Valjean nearly turns to a life of crime out of desperation until a Bishop inspires him to spend his life repenting and serving others. But to do so he must break his parole, and the fanatical Police Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) chases him for decades. Their different viewpoints--Javert's devotion to the letter of the law and Valjean's belief in religiously inspired positive works and mercy--define their actions and their philosophies for years. One positive act on Valjean's part, helping a former employee, ends up changing his whole life.

LES MISÉRABLES has been adapted many times to the screen--46 times are listed in the IMDB--and until now perhaps the best was Raymond Bernard's film in 1934. This new film is the only version that rival's Bernard's for detail and complexity. That is ironic since it had to carry the weight of the singing in addition to telling the story. The singing of the musical content is done with the actors' own voices sung in front of the camera, itself a remarkable practice these days. And the singing is done in long camera takes, not piecing together bits and pieces with peak moments as was done in films like MOULIN ROUGE and CHICAGO. The difference is like being given steak instead of hamburger.

Filled with actors known for drama rather than singing, LES MISÉRABLES still does very good in the musical sections that make up nearly the entire film. Jackman has a good singing voice, but Crowe's voice is discordant as is the personality of his character. He is an impressive force when not singing and a little less when he is. He manages singing better than Clint Eastwood or Lee Marvin has. Hooper may have been going for something other than operatic perfection from his character. Anne Hathaway's singing is excellent and wedded to intensive acting in one of the standout performances of the year. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are a little overripe in the comic relief roles of the two Thernardiers, but perhaps the intense story needed some relief.

With a story about among other things class conflict this production of the play by Boublil and Schönberg is perhaps timelier today than when the play was first produced. That makes this an important film as well as a very well made one. Any small failings of LES MISÉRABLES are overwhelmed by the accomplishment of what was done here that is directly on the mark. I found the film is a powerful experience. The audience I saw it with not only applauded at the end, they applauded it in the middle. I give the new LES MISÉRABLES the very rare rating of +4 on the -4 to +4 scale or a full 10/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying: miserables_2012/


Keeping Up with Space (comments by Dale L. Skran, Jr.):

As a long time "space fan" and space activist who has recently become more active in the field after a hiatus, I would like to share with you, as a sort of Christmas present, how I have been keeping up with what is going on in the world of space. One of the saddest things about the recent years is the fashion in which the mainstream press has gradually covered activities in space less and less, with the result that it was common for people to comment after the cancellation of the space shuttle that "the space program was ending." For a few, this statement was political, but for most it was simple ignorance. In fact, our space program is in a state of rapid progress--it's just that a lot of that progress is taking place outside of NASA, in the so-called "Newspace" or commercial space sector.

A decent general place to get the top news headlines is I like Yahoo news because some effort is made to present only one story on each major topic, unlike Google where you get twenty or thirty similar stories on the same thing. If you want to know the major "public headlines" in space on any give day, this is a good place to start.

However, I am more interested in looking behind the scenes, and the first place I go is, which theoretically covers space tourism, but really covers anything that the blog master, Doug Messier, finds interesting. If you had to read a single news source on space, this is the one I would go to. Doug's opinions are pretty much behind the scenes, although clearly he is a big space supporter who apparently spends full time writing for his blog. One thing that makes this blog great is that it is full of up-to-the minute videos of engine and spacecraft tests of all kinds. For example, the December 23rd post shows a recent test of the SpaceX reusable rocket, the Grasshopper. This video is **awesome**--bet you didn't even know that someone was actively testing a reusable rocket booster? In fact, multiple companies, including Jeff Bezos' secretive Blue Origin, are racing to build the first fully reusable rocket and lower launch costs by a large factor. However, you'll never see this stuff covered in the mainstream press, and you'll never see the videos on the cable news unless a rocket crashes into Santa's sleigh.

Another great place to go is Here you'll find a lot of detail about what is happening at NASA, brought to you by blog master Keith Cowing. Keith is a bit more opinionated than Doug, and often adds his own comments to stories. He frequently takes NASA to task for poor publicity or a disorganized public face, but on the whole I find Keith to be a reasonable fellow. There is some coverage of commercial space, but the main emphasis is NASA, including a lot of gossipy dirt that *never* hits the mainstream press, such as letters from disgruntled employees and so on. Nasawatch is always entertaining and always worth checking out.

The third of my top three sites is The Space Review, subtitled "essays and commentary about the final frontier," is more a magazine than a blog. Each week editor Jeff Foust brings out three or four long essays from different authors, including sometimes himself. This site is a great source for thoughtful, non-polemical writing about space that covers a variety of viewpoints. I usually read most of the articles every week.

There is a fourth site that I check frequently,, which is also edited by Jeff Foust, but which may be too specialized for most people. This blog follows the politics of space in Washington DC, and is packed with insider information that never makes it even to top papers like the NEW YORK TIMES or the WALL STREET JOURNAL. As a political junkie, I find it very interesting, but your mileage may vary.

My other main source of space news, is, well, SPACE NEWS, which I get in paper form weekly but which is also available on-line. This is pretty much the premier source for the space business, but at $209/year, it is not for the faint of heart. If you are a space insider of some sort, the rates are lower, as is typical for business publications. You might wonder why I don't read AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY--I did subscribe years ago, but I found that it was (a) expensive and (b) much more about aviation than space. Also, while AvTech (or Aviation Leak, as it is affectionately known) covers military and NASA space pretty well, historically it has not done a good job covering commercial space ventures, and it ignores a lot of space activity that is interesting to the space activist.

There are two other news sources I strongly recommend. One is AD ASTRA, the membership magazine of the National Space Society ( You won't find timely news in this monthly magazine, but it has a lot of interesting background and feature stories. Also, the NSS web site has a wealth of information on space development and colonization, although it can be a bit hard to find. The other is the PLANETARY REPORT which is published monthly by the Planetary Society, and provides good coverage of planetary exploration and the activities of the Planetary Society. I fully endorse both organizations and urge you to join them.

One of the unfortunate aspects of the space information flow is that, which you would think might be the go- to site for space news, is so picture heavy that it is almost impossible to navigate. Also, often fails to cover important political and commercial stories in a timely fashion, or at all. It's not that there is no useful information at, but for a site that tries to be one-size-fits-all space site, it is surprisingly weak. I mention this site mainly to warn you away from it, not to recommend it. If you do go there, look for articles by Leonard David, whom I find to be one of their more interesting writers.

This just about rounds up my Christmas letter (actually written on Christmas Day 2012!) on how I keep up with the space scene. Here's wishing you all a great New Year! Ad Astra. [-dls]

THE WEANS (letter of comment by Kip Williams):

In response to Evelyn's comments on THE WEANS in the 12/21/12 issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:

The radio version of the book you mention is available at this link:

(I linked to the page instead of the program because some of the CBS Radio Workshops are very good: let me recommend "The Little Prince," with Richard (Dickie) Beals, Raymond Burr, and Hans Conried in the cast, and "Epitaphs," based on "Spoon River Anthology.")

They spell it "We-uns" here, probably because it was taken down by ear. I heard this show on Denver's KFML back in the 1970s (when now-author John Dunning had a regular Sunday spot, playing old radio shows with Harry Tuft), and thought it was side-splitting. Now it's kind of excruciatingly arch, and I couldn't listen to the whole half-hour program. I heard enough to remember that they translated "Washington DC" as "Pound Laundry." Yes, folks, it's ALL that funny! In fact, most of the humor shows I've tried in the series are that funny. If it wasn't for Bob & Ray, and Jean Shepherd, I might have concluded that they just didn't *do* humor on radio in the Fifties.

While I'm at it, also has lots of great radio movies (Lux Radio Theatre, Screen Guild Playhouse, Mercury Theatre/Campbell Playhouse) and even books (Mercury/Campbell again) and Broadway plays. Among the gems at Lux, you'll find Edward G. Robinson as Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon," and original-cast versions of "It's a Wonderful Life" and the first two "Thin Man" movies, or you can hear William Powell in the Joseph Cotten role in "Shadow of a Doubt." Screen Guild has a half-hour setting of "Arsenic and Old Lace" in which Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre stalk Eddie Albert. A show called "This is My Best" has the only good adaptation of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" that I've ever heard, starring Robert Benchley. Compare to the Danny Kaye version at Screen Guild--the opening is missing from theBenchley, but it's prime. [-kw]

THE HOBBIT (letter of comment by Andre Kuzniarek):

In response to Mark's review of THE HOBBIT in the 12/21/12 issue of the MT VOID, Andre Kuzniarek writes:

Any comments about the 48 FPS technology used in the production of the film? I'm curious if it's worth seeing the movie just for a chance to experience that. [-ak]

Mark replies:

Here is my experience. Somehow I had not heard before seeing the film that it was shot at 48 frames per second. At the theater I noticed that the coming attractions were slightly out of focus. I reported it, but the theater seemed to be staffed with teenagers only. I reported the lack of focus to the ticket taker. A few minutes later the projectionist was apparently turning the lens to get a different aspect ratio and then turned it back about as out of focus as before. Watching the film it was not too badly out of focus. But I do not know if I was seeing it at 48 FPS or 24 FPS. Some theaters are showing it at 24.

I heard the subject discussed at length on the Cinefantastique podcast:

Apparently 48 FPS is not really an improvement according to most people who have seen it. Film reviewers who saw the film at 48 FPS seem to have been very negative on the process. I take it that it actually cheapens the visuals. I have seen that effect with Blu- ray. You get to see the figures much more clearly and you really don't want to. Consider stage makeup. If an actor is going to be on the stage the people in the seats will not see him very clearly because of the distance. Stage make-up that works really well for the patrons in the seat, does not look very good close up. It looks cheap and exaggerated. Even in the theater you are at some distance from the screen and that naturally blurs the image. I guess it would be like an Impressionist painting that looks very good across the room but up close it seems very artificial. That is my guess about what is happening, but I am not an expert. I am speculating. [-mrl]

KING KONG (letter of comment by George Maclachlan):

In response to Mark's comments on KING KONG in the 12/21/12 issue of the MT VOID, George Maclachlan writes:

Just wanted to let you both know that I still enjoy reading your weekly SF news magazine. Thank you for all the effort it takes to generate this on a regular basis. A quick question about the 1933 King Kong movie. I remember reading in a SF magazine (I think it was MONSTER) back in the early 1960's, an article that described some of the scenes that were cut from the original movie. In particular they showed some stills of scenes showing giant spiders that lived in the valley beneath the log where Kong was shaking loose some of the men he had cornered. Do you know if anyone ever tried to reconstruct these cut scenes back into the original movie? [-gfm]

Mark responds:

What you are talking about his KING KONG's lost spider-pit sequence. The IMDB's entry on KING KONG has a link for alternate versions, which takes you to a page that talks about this sequence. To quote them:

"The original version was released four times between 1933 and 1952, and each release saw the cutting of additional scenes. Though many of the outtakes--including the censored sequence in which Kong peels off Fay Wray's clothes--were restored in 1971, one cut scene has never been found. It is the clip in which Kong shakes four sailors off a log bridge, causing them to fall into a ravine where they are eaten alive by giant spiders. When the movie--with spider sequence intact--was previewed in San Bernardino, Calif., in late January, 1933, members of the audience screamed and either left the theatre or talked about the grisly sequence throughout the remainder of the film. Said the film's producer, Merian C. Cooper, 'It stopped the picture cold, so the next day back at the studio, I took it out myself'. Recently, there have been rumors that the reason why the scene was cut was because it slowed down the film too much and didn't tie into the main story of Kong pursuing Ann. Peter Jackson and the crew at WETA 'reconstructed' and re-shot the scene for the Warner R1 DVD using duplicates of the original stop motion models, the shooting script, and various storyboards. The sequence also includes the sailors running from an enraged triceratops."

The sequence has become legendary.

If you go to you will be on a google page that has links to a 9-minute film discussing the sequence and another link to Peter Jackson's five-minute recreation sequence, a speculation of what his research tells him of what the original sequence in the 1933 film might have looked like. The same page has pictures of the spider models that were used. [-mrl]

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

This month's book discussion book was DEATH OF A SALESMAN by Arthur Miller (ISBN 978-0-140-24773-2), and I was struck by the notion of Willy Loman as "unreliable narrator," though not in the usual sense.

When I read DEATH OF A SALESMAN I am struck by how tightly written it is. It is not just that the individual lines serve to illuminate the characters, but that lines connect to earlier lines, particularly in the case of Willy Loman. And the cumulative effect of all these lines is that Willy Loman is a very unreliable narrator.

In preparation for the discussion group meeting about the play, I made notes on a few of these connections:

Willy says, "Biff is a lazy bum!" then *three lines later* he says, "There's one thing about Biff--he's not lazy." (page 16)

Willy says, "What is [Biff] stealing? He's giving it back, isn't he? Why is he stealing? What did I tell him? I never in my life told him anything but decent things," but later he tells him, "Go right over to where they're building the apartment house and get some sand," and boasts, "You shoulda seen the lumber they brought home last week. At least a dozen six-by-tens worth all kinds a money." (pages 41 and 50)

Willy interrupts Linda at the start of the discussion of going to see Bill Oliver, and constantly interrupts both her and his sons, but also keeps telling her not to interrupt. (page 62)

Willy says to Biff, "Ah, you're counting your chickens again," when in fact he is the one assuming Oliver is going to give Biff money, and is constantly counting his chickens. (page 63)

When Biff says, "Jesus, I'm going to sleep," Willy tells him not to curse in his house, but then later Willy yells at Linda, "Don't take his side all the time, godammit!" and later talks about the "Goddam plumbing." (pages 63, 65, and 66)

Willy tells Biff to "talk as little as possible and don't crack any jokes," then almost immediately tells him, "Walk in with a big laugh. Start off with a couple of your good stories to lighten things up." (pages 64 and 65)

Willy is equally conflicted about his own situation. He says, I'm very well liked in Hartford. You know, the trouble is, Linda, people don't seem to take to me." There is no break at all between the two statements. (page 36)

Willy says not to use "Gee" ("'Gee' is a boy's word"), but then later says, "Gee, look at the moon moving between the buildings," and, "Gee, on the way home tonight I'd like to buy some seeds." (pages 65, 69, and 72)

Willy says that Howard's father asked him what he thinks of the name "Howard" for his new son, but later he says that he named Howard. (page 80, page 97)

At one point Willy says of Biff, "Greatest thing in the world was for him to bum around," but almost everything he says runs counter to this. (page 67)

Figuring put what kind of car Willy currently owns can only be determined by listening to Linda--and even then it is not definite. Very early on, Linda says "Maybe it was the steering again. I don't think Angelo knows the Studebaker." A few minutes later, Willy says, "I opened the windshield." Later, Linda says, "And Willy--if it's warm Sunday, we'll drive on the country. And we'll open the windshield, and take lunch," to which Willy responds, "No, the windshields don't open on the new cars."

Linda responds, "But you opened it today," and Willy says that he didn't--he was "thinking of the Chevvy. Nineteen twenty-eight ... when I had that red Chevvy. ... I coulda sworn I was driving that Chevvy today."

However, when Linda later talks about owing Frank for the carburetor (what happened to Angelo?), Willy says, "That goddam Chevrolet, they ought to prohibit the manufacture of that car!" But the next day, when she mentions a "motor job on the car," he says "That goddam Studebaker!" I can understand Linda not correcting him all the time, but you have to wonder if Linda knows anything about the car if she does not even know if the windshield opens. And there is no chance that they own two cars. (pages 13, 14, 18, 19, 36, and 73)

(Page numbers are from the Penguin edition, DEATH OF A SALESMAN: TEXT AND CRITICISM, ISBN 978-0-140-24773-2).

(I should note that what I liked in DEATH OF A SALESMAN--this repetition of the idea that Willy will say whatever supports his opinion at that instant, even when it contradicts something he said only a sentence or two before--is something that at least one other person in our discussion group found annoying and a negative aspect of the play.)

An article last May in the "New York Times" reviewing the latest Broadway production of THE DEATH OF A SALESMAN, with Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman, was actually more of a meta-review. Lee Siegel found great irony in a classic about the middle class, when the middle class is a vanishing breed. The fact that tickets for the play cost between $111 and $840 puts them well beyond the range of most of what is left of the middle class. (In 1949 tickets cost between $1.80 and $4.80, about the price of a hardback book.)

And what of the play itself? People no longer see Willy Loman as a man beaten down by an unfair system; they see him as a man who has not figured out how to use the system. He is not an innocent victim--he is a chump. In 1949, people believed that hard work should get you the middle class lifestyle: car, house, refrigerator, and so on. Now people believe that one can get rich quick: buy the right stock, win the lottery, get a cushy job on Wall Street, or whatever. And they don't aim for a middle-class lifestyle; they want the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Not for them the rented apartment until they can save up enough money to buy a small home in the suburbs, though for Hap just his own apartment is an enormous accomplishment. (That Biff and Hap share a bedroom, and have to share one bathroom if they both want to shave at the same time, tells you something about the size of the Loman house.) No, today people want a McMansion as soon as they get out of school, along with two cars, and all the other accoutrements of the wealthy. Willy's dreams are not their dreams.

(And clearly the implication is that if Hap did not insist on spending his money on his own apartment and car, and were still living at home and contributing to the expenses there, Willy would not be in such dire straits financially.)

One thing that has not changed is that rich people do not understand how poor people--or even lower-middle-class people-- live. Howard knows that Willy is no longer getting a salary, and not much (if anything) in commission, yet when Willy says he is thinking of getting a wire recorder, Howard blithely responds, "Sure, they're only a hundred and a half," and then goes on, "Supposing you wanna hear Jack Benny, see? But you can't be home at that home. So you tell the maid ..." Willy cannot manage to scrape together enough to cover his current bills, and the notion of his having a maid is just bizarre.

One could also analyze Linda's role in the family. She is in many ways a typical late-1940s housewife, but her attitude towards Willy borders on the idolatrous. She never criticizes him--and contradicts all his self-criticisms--and meekly puts up with all his verbal abuse. Not only that, though, she refuses to acknowledge anything amiss in his treatment of his sons, and goes so far as to tell them that they must respect Willy as a father or she will disown them. One sees this behavior even now, but usually in the context of one extremely abusive parent whose actions are willfully ignored by the other parent.

I also recently read THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald (ISBN 978-0-743-27356-7). In the first chapter there is a reference by Tom Buchanan to "'The Rise of the Colored Empires'" by this man Goddard." Most reviews have said that this is a thinly veiled reference to the real-life Lothrop Stoddard's book of the time, THE RISING TIDE OF COLOR. But I wonder if the intent was not to portray Tom as a pretentious poseur who attempts to seem like an intellectual but cannot get the author's name or book title correct.

I found this line of his in Chapter VII oddly prescient: "Nowadays people begin by sneering at family life and family institutions, and next they'll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and white."

And in Chapter IX, Fitzgerald gives as good a summary of how rich people live as I have seen recently: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made...."

Of course, everyone seems to have it in for rich people. Even J. R. R. Tolkien, in THE HOBBIT (ISBN 978-0-618-15083-3) says of Smaug's rage that it was "the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted." [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          He once telephoned a semicolon from Moscow.
                     --James Bone (on the accuracy of a journalist)

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