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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
08/09/13 -- Vol. 32, No. 6, Whole Number 1766
Table of Contents
What Podcasts Do I Listen To? (Part 2) (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
Last week I was giving a tour of the podcasts that I listen to and pack onto my iPod. Let me continue with film-related podcasts (of which there are a LOT out there). My major hobbies are mathematics and cinema. Sadly there are not any really good math podcasts. Not surprisingly there are a lot more film-related podcasts. By the way, when I refer to "genre" below I am referring to the science fiction, horror, and fantasy genre.
*Film Review and Commentary*
Roger Ebert is no longer alive to have a weekly program to review new movies I might want to see, and this is the best substitute I have found so far. Generally the podcasters start with major films and then move on to foreign and art films. The reviews last about half an hour. Usually there is a fifteen-minute or so feature discussion afterward.
The B-Movie Cast
This started out as just a (usually) weekly podcast, each week discussing older genre films. Podcaster Vince Rotolo who manages it has more or less forged a community of fans. The approach is more a "good ol' boys" informality, and mispronunciations and factual errors are not unusual. Most episodes will discuss one chosen genre film. These are film buffs who are often not so much experts as enthusiasts. Everything is very informal. Episodes frequently are two hours plus. Still enough people were interested in the subject matter that it gets a lot of listener participation.
(Note: On the sites that follow I would never have time to listen to all these podcasts. On the film discussion sites I listen only if I am interested in one or more of the films to be covered.)
The Paleo-Cinema Podcast
Distances mean very little on the Internet. This podcast comes from Melbourne, Australia, and is Terry Frost's podcast discussing older films and usually Frost picks some very interesting pair of films to discuss. Some of these go as far back as the 1940s, but nothing newer than twenty-five or so years old. This podcast does not do genre, but Frost's Martian Drive-In Podcast does that separately. Terry picks two films to discuss each time and produces a show about once every four weeks.
Martian Drive-In Podcast
Terry Frost alternates episodes for "Paleo-Cinema Podcast" and the "Martian Drive-In Podcast". This podcast is exclusively about genre films. Again he uses the two films per podcast format. (The two-film format is fairly common.)
The Mighty Movie Podcast
Cinefantastique magazine was for years the best periodical discussing genre films. It was somehow transformed into a website that survived after the printed magazine folded. They have their own podcast that still exists, but also it is part of a broader podcast, "The Mighty Movie Podcast". More than half of their podcasts are for "Cinefantastique". "The Mighty Movie Podcast" is knowledgeable and intelligent. They talk mostly about current films.
Sound on Sight
Two film fans discussing one or two films. There is a good archive of older shows. Mostly you find podcasts from their archive, and frequently they discuss current films.
Now Playing Podcast
Generally three people discussing one film. Again, it is worthwhile scouting the archives.
Double Feature Podcast
Very much like "Sound on Sight". Two film fans discussing films with a reasonable knowledge of film though true insights are uncommon. One thing that listeners find bothersome is the podcasters penchant for using a *lot* of profanity. Their slogan is "Watch more f***ing film." They seem to use profanity as their trademark. I am not bothered, but it makes them sound a little less than bright. Preferring to use ubiquitous swear words rather than better chosen words or just leaving the words out. "Watch more f***ing film" does not say any more to me than "Watch more film" would.
Monster Kid Radio
The host and usually one guest discuss usually a genre-related film topic. This is a fairly new podcast, and it is still experimenting with its format. But the host and guests do know films.
1951 Down Place
Hammer Films of Britain had and still has a reputation for making quality genre films among their output. This podcast discusses only Hammer films. This I find one of the most entertaining and erudite film podcasts.
This is a discussion of genre films and TV coming to the United States from Britain. Usually they discuss older programs and films.
*Readings, stories, plays*
Protecting Project Pulp
Each week we get a dramatic reading of a chosen story from the old pulp magazines.
19 Nocturne Boulevard
Somewhere out there is someone named Julie Hoverson who does the work of about eight people. She turns out audio dramas, dramatic readings, editorials, and all sorts of things. She must put out three or four podcasts a week. She has readings of most if not all of H. P. Lovecraft's stories. Currently she is doing dramatic readings of pulp science fiction stories out of copyright. I think that that "19 Nocturne Boulevard" was supposed to be a sort of "Twilight Zone" for audio, though I admit I do not always get the point of some of her plays.
Well, that is the lot. Assuming more do not come to mind. If you have troubles with the links you can write me for help. And you can email me your own favorite podcasts. [-mrl]
ENDER'S GAME: The Movie Boycott (editorial by Dale L. Skran, Jr.):
As you may or may not have heard, the gay organization "Geeks Out" is calling for a boycott of the upcoming movie ENDER'S GAME. Normally I don't get involved in political things, but my own ox is being gored here. As a long time SF fan, an extensive list of great written SF exists that I'd like to see on film. It has been wonderful seeing Martin's GAME OF THRONES brought to life on HBO. I was really looking forward to seeing one of my favorite, and my son Sam's most favorite, SF stories on film.
Of course, the film is probably in the can now, and no boycott will prevent its release. However, a successful boycott will surely damage many associated with the film, including those that took a chance by investing in a strong SF film not featuring a person wearing tights. As near as I can tell, "Geeks Out" is not claiming that ENDER'S GAME is homophobic, either in prose form or as a movie. Nor is "Geeks Out" claiming that the company behind ENDER'S GAME is homophobic. Their entire goal is to hurt Orson Scott Card financially, and personally, by making it more difficult for him to make a living. Apparently Card has made anti-gay marriage statements, and has been active in anti-gay marriage groups. For the "crime" of exercising his first amendment rights, he must pay, they claim.
It is ironic that this boycott is appearing as the movement toward gay marriage has gained considerable success. Even more oddly, Card himself has never been known in SF circles as a major right-winger, those positions being filled by worthies like Jerry Pournelle. I've read dozens of Card's books, and I've never smelled even a whiff of homophobia, or anything else that might be objectionable. In fact, I was completely unaware of Card's views on gay marriage until I started seeing articles about the "Geeks Out" boycott. Unlike writers such as Pournelle, whose politics are a major theme of many of this books, it is hard to discern any political or cultural theme in Card's output.
Of course, the greater potential harm lies in the movies that will not be made as a result of this boycott. Apparently, any sort of political or controversial view makes an SF author eligible for being on a boycott blacklist. I guess we can kiss the MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS movie good-bye, since it advocates inter-racial group marriage. TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE is out as well--incest!!! And let's not even get started on Heinlein's militarism in STARSHIP TROOPERS or the spanking scenes in GLORY ROAD. It's clear that no Heinlein novel can ever be filmed due to Heinlein's pro-natalist, pro-incest, pro-military, and pro-group marriage views. Clearly this Heinlein is a bad guy who should be blacklisted.
One could go on in this vein, pointing out SF writers on both the right and the left with various skeletons in their closets. The endpoint of this orgy of destruction might well be that very few new serious SF films based on written SF will get made due to fear of future boycotts.
I have a simple solution--go see ENDER'S GAME when it comes out in November. You owe the people who took a chance on making it [and they did take a big chance - look at what happened to JOHN CARTER] that much. If it's good, or even just fun, see it again and bring all your friends. If it's really good, see it a third time. Stop when revenue passes $200 million in the USA, and you start seeing articles about the failure of the "Geeks Out" boycott. Hopefully "Geeks Out" will then find better ways to promote their cause than trying to punish their political enemies financially. And again, hopefully, studios will continue to take chances on making films based on written SF. [-dls]
I should say here that Dale's views are not necessarily those of the MT VOID. While I do not look favorably on the Geeks Out boycott, it seems to be well within the Constitutional rights of Geeks Out to call for the action. And if people are going to stay away from a movie, you can't stop them.
I suspect that Geeks Out are bringing notoriety to ENDER'S GAME that will work in favor of the movie. A well-known filmmaker supposedly admitted that he arranged for public protests of his own film in order to bring it publicity. I seriously doubt that the producers of ENDER'S GAME are worried by or have much to worry about the boycott.
I am not ambushing Dale here. I expressed these opinions to him several days ago. [-mrl]
JUG FACE (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: An effective and atmospheric backcountry horror film has a family who worships something in a pit that heals them when they are ill but which also requires human sacrifices. Chad Crawford Kinkle writes and directs a very atmospheric and unusual horror film. There is some violence, but primarily it is a dark mood piece with some poetry. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
SPOILER WARNING: The premise of the film unwinds very slowly. It takes a while for it to reveal all I say below.
From the opening titles of JUG FACE we know we are in good hands. Under those titles we see pictures of a backwoods community rendered in what looks like chalk folk-art. There is also a picture of what we will come to know as "The Pit." The pictures are cryptic, but raise just the right questions for the viewer. They also introduce the audience to the mood of JUG FACE. And mood and atmosphere are most of what this film is about.
JUG FACE is a kind of horror film we do not get much of any more. There is a little action, but the film is much more situation than it is conflict. There is a minimum of special effects. Writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle takes the time to develop his characters and gets a rich tone from setting. That setting is the back woods someplace, possibly Appalachia or the Ozarks. This is Moonshine country. Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) is frightened not by the apparent supernatural going on around her but by the natural. She fears she is pregnant. Her life was bad enough with her parents arranging her marriage to a repellent local boy. But worse the guy who has been hitting on her, the father of her possible child, is her older brother. This may be a problem that The Pit cannot fix. She can expect no help from a domineering and less than supportive mother (Sean Young) who treats Ada little better than an animal. And Ada is so desperate for an escape from her problems that she may try to get help from The Pit.
What is The Pit? We cannot be really sure. It is a large hole in the ground in which something may live. Either The Pit or what lives in it has the power to heal the sick and to protect the community. But it exacts a heavy price in return. It requires blood sacrifices from the people that it helps. The Pit has its own peculiar way of telling the locals who is the next sacrifice, from which we get the title.
Ada's father is played Larry Fessenden. That name may be unfamiliar to some readers. Fessenden makes horror films that are short on budget, certainly short on special effects, but long on character, atmosphere, and setting. His films include WENDIGO and LAST WINTER. In JUG FACE he is credited only with acting, but the film owes much to his style. The other casting surprise is Sean Young who epitomized the 1940's Joan Crawford chic look in BLADERUNNER. A little older and heavier, here she is a dead opposite as Ada's mother.
Kinkle uses lush forest sounds (and Chris Heinrich's cinematography) to give a naturalistic hinterlands feel. This might be the same region where Debra Granik's WINTER'S BONE was set. The feeling of isolation just adds to the atmosphere. This is a place where a new pagan religion might be founded with nobody in the outside world noticing.
In lesser hands the plot could have been ludicrous. Instead we have a very unusual exercise in Southern Gothic that transforms an absurd plot into dark and poetic horror territory. I rate JUG FACE a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2620736/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/jug_face/
Monster Bash 2013 (convention report by Nick Sauer):
The Monster Bash is an annual convention that recently moved to Mars, Pennsylvania. The convention focuses on the classic Universal horror films as well as 1950s and 1960s genre movies and television.
This was the first year for The Monster Bash at its new location the Four Points Sheraton in Mars, PA. The convention is not a large one but with an attendance of around 2000 is not exactly small either. This size makes the convention a much more closely knit affair giving the proceedings much more of a family reunion type of feel for the regular attendees. The dealer room is both the literal and figurative center of the convention. The room had around 200 dealers with a wide variety of items ranging from books, to movie posters and lobby cards, DVDs and even model kits. Artists were also present in the room and, of course, there was a t-shirt seller as well. A number of the dealers have DVD copies of series that are otherwise difficult to locate. My main purchase was the complete series of "Special Unit 2", an urban fantasy/police procedural that originally aired on UPN starting in 2001, which is highly rated amongst genre TV fans but which has never been professionally released in spite of this. The dealers were all very friendly and surprisingly willing to negotiate on price.
The guests were set up on tables in the hallway surrounding the dealer room. There are a number of regular guests like Tom Savini and local horror host "Chilly" Billy Cardille. Another advantage of the smaller con size is that the guests are very accessible. This year's big guest stars were John Saxon and Pat Priest. The longest I ever saw the line for either of them was four deep and on average there was usually just one person. The guests also did Q&A sessions as part of the convention track.
There is only one track at the Bash which alternates between films, guests, speakers and, what I personally found the most interesting, documentaries. Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures presented some of his documentary work. A number of his documentaries end up as extra features on DVD and Blu-ray releases. There were three documentaries that I watched. One was on the making of THIS ISLAND EARTH and did a good job of showing the films significance in light of its historical context as a motion picture. I have always felt this film is somewhat overrated but, I now have a greater respect for it after seeing Daniel's documentary. The other two that I saw back to back were "Auteur on the Campus: Jack Arnold at Universal!" and one on the making of the film THE MOLE PEOPLE. All of these were great shows as they were very informative and featured lots of interviews with people involved at the time. Daniel had a booth in the dealer room and Diane picked up a Blu-ray of the Alaistar Sim version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL from him that included one of his documentaries in the extra features. I only went to one speaker presentation, which focused on 1940 census data that was publicly released last year. This speaker had searched through the data and found information on some of the famous horror actors, directors and screenwriters of the day. He handed out copies of the actual census pages and made a great presentation on what could be learned from the information presented and put it in a historical context of what we know about that individual's life at the time. In at least one case, it seemed clear that one of the actors had been less than honest with the census taker with regard to their actual economic worth. It was a surprisingly interesting talk that I'm glad my wife Diane talked me into attending.
If you like bigger conventions Monster Bash may not be for you. I personally enjoy the smaller venue as I feel it makes for more of a "small town" type experience as opposed to the more impersonal feel one gets at a big convention like the Origins Game Fair. The convention has a more specific focus but this is made up for by greater accessibility to the guests and speakers. If you are a fan of the classic Universal horror movies I would definitely recommend checking out the Monster Bash. [-ns]
Uncle Hugo's Bookstore and an SF Art Show (letter of comment by Andre Kuzniarek):
Andre Kuzniarek sends the following:
You're probably familiar with Uncle Hugo's, but if not, here's a good introduction to the shop:
More to the point is this cool art show:
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
QUINTESSENCE by David Walton (ISBN 978-0-7653-3090-1) is an alternate history set in 1553 where everything seems the same as our world except that the Earth is flat. One could argue that there should be some differences due to weather variations if nothing else, but I suppose one needs to accept such things.
However, I will quibble about the Biblical quotations (on pages 129 and 198, from Psalm 103:12-16). They are exactly the wording in the King James translation of the Bible, but this translation was not done until 1611:
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. [Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.] As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more."
What should have been quoted was the Great Bible of 1539:
"For loke how wyde also the east is from the west, so farre hath he set oure synnes from vs. [Yee like as a father pitieth his awne children, eue so is the Lorde mercyfull vnto thee that fear him. For he knoweth whereof we be made, he remembreth that we are but dust.] The days of man are but as grasse, for he florisheth as a floure of the felde. For as soone as the wynde goeth ouer it, it is gone, and the place thereof shall knowe it nomore."
In addition to the flat earth, the assumption is also that alchemical ideas are valid and that alchemy works. They may seem to go together, but actually the idea that the earth is flat was not held by educated men, who are precisely the people who studied and believed in alchemy. However, the two ideas are connected in most modern readers' minds, so I suppose it does make literary sense.
POODLE SPRINGS by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker (ISBN 978-0-425-12343-0) was Chandler's last novel, finished after his death by Parker. It has the somewhat convoluted plot that one expects from Chandler, but frankly, having Marlowe married to Linda Loring (from THE LONG GOODBYE) is a misstep on someone's part. It may give Marlowe additional connections to the people involved in his latest case, but that just emphasizes the artificiality of it all. The writing is Chandleresque, but it lacks that spark that Chandler's best works have. [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: Death is the only thing we haven't succeeded in completely vulgarizing. --Aldous HuxleyTweet
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