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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society 06/15/18 -- Vol. 36, No. 50, Whole Number 2019
Table of Contents
The "Real" Batmobile in New Jersey:
The Batmobile from the 1992 film BATMAN RETURNS will be on display (weather permitting) at the Bridge-to-Business Business Expo, at the Grand Marquis, 1550 Route 9, Old Bridge, Thursday, June 28, from 6 PM to 9PM. Admission is free.
The Lambeth Walk (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
Monty Python did a comic sketch about the man who thought of the funniest joke of all time. People reading this joke literally laughed themselves to death. (They had to read it, since if it were read to them it would be fatal for the reader.) The British army got their hands on the joke in World War II and weaponized it. The Germans were unable to come up with a joke that rivaled the killer joke on the battlefield. Well, that Python story is totally fiction--at least I think so. Even if someone could be killed by a joke almost certainly other people would not find the joke funny. I doubt a joke funny enough to fell a Brit would raise more than a chuckle from a German soldier. But there were jokes during World War II that, while not fatal, really cut deep on the Nazi side.
There was one very effective joke, as I was reminded recently. I heard a bit of the Lambeth Walk and it elicited a chuckle from me just thinking about it. People older than me possibly know *why* I chuckled, though I doubt there are many readers younger than me who have heard the story. This story has two roots in different countries.
In 1934 the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler held its annual rally in Nurnberg with a great deal of the splendiferous pomp the Nazis so loved. This particular rally was especially staged for Leni Riefenstahl's cameras to be the subject matter for a propaganda documentary that would be titled "Triumph of the Will." Hitler wanted to frighten Europe by making his soldiers look oh so professional and impressive and intimidating. A lot of our ideas of Nazi pageantry come from images in this film. In fact, in the first "Star Wars" film when they have the awards ceremony at the end, that ceremony was visually inspired by "Triumph of the Will."
Meanwhile in the United States people's minds were in entirely a different place. In 1937 ME AND MY GAL a Broadway play was produced. Included was one song and dance number called "The Lambeth Walk." The dance that went with the song was sort of crazy set of swing gestures. A link is provided below to show the original dance.
The dance, in spite of its silliness, became an international favorite and was popular in German swing clubs. "The Lambeth Walk" was chosen by the Nazi party for particular abuse. A member of the Nazi party in a broadcast speech officially condemned "The Lambeth Walk as being "Jewish mischief and animalistic hopping."
In 1942 Charles A. Ridley of the British Ministry of Information reworked footage from "Triumph of the Will" with its goose-stepping soldiers, marchers, and drummers on parade as a short musical film. With a little manipulation it could be edited to the tune of Lambeth Walk as if the German troops were dancing to the song.
The film was released un-copyrighted and anonymously to several news agencies so that it would be shown in theaters around Britain. All that splendor of the Nazi regalia became a laughing stock. When the film was screened for Joseph Goebbels he stamped out in anger swearing and kicking chairs as he went. He put Ridley on a death list for when Germany defeated England. Somehow the Germans never got around to defeating Britain and executing Ridley.
These days the film that Ridley made would be called a "mash-up" and software would have made it easy to edit together on a PC. But it did demonstrate that humor could be used effectively to strike at the enemy.
The film can be seen at:
An example of the original dance can be seen at:
WONDER WOMAN (letter of comment by Dale Skran):
In response to Evelyn's comments on WONDER WOMAN in the 06/08/18 issue of the MT VOID, Dale Skran writes:
With regard to Evelyn's comments on WW and "bullets and bracelets" the movie actually handles this much better than the comics. In the comics, her powers are a jumble, and as is the case with most DC characters, oddly and inconsistently written.
In the movie WW, she is a tool forged by Zeus to kill Ares. As such, she has the powers of many of the gods, including the speed of Hermes/Mercury. Keeping in mind that people shooting guns usually aim at the head/chest, it is not surprising that the bullets are mostly in front of WW. She is simply so fast that she can easily bump them aside. Geeking out here, she is not quite as fast as the Flash or Superman, but compared to ordinary mortals her speed isn't just super-human, but god-like in nature. The movie makes effective use of slow motion to show how Wonder Woman views her opponents--they crawl along like turtles, barely moving from her perspective. [-dls]
Radio Drama (letter of comment by Kip Williams):
In response to the comments on radio drama in the 06/08/18 issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:
Putting in some words for radio drama. I've been using radio shows and audiobooks while exercising lately, because if I listen to music and read while doing it, I tend to slow down. Can't slow down. Gotta push, push, push. So I've been going to archive.org (as you mention) for shows. Incidentally, I got started around the same time as you, 1970 or so, and in the early 70s, we had John Dunning (now author John Dunning) doing a couple of hours, and sometimes more, with announcer Harry Tuft on Denver's KFML, where I learned about the great stuff.
For regular radd-io, there's GUNSMOKE, NERO WOLFE, PHILLIP MARLOWE, THE SAINT, and comedies like I'M SORRY I'LL READ THAT AGAIN, THE GOON SHOW, and BOB & RAY. For literature, there's the BBC, which has fairly substantial versions of Chandler novels (all the Marlowes), Dorothy Sayers (Lord Peter), Shakespeare, Dahl (memoirs), Austen (EMMA, and a Milne adaptation of PRIDE & PREJUDICE), Hammett (THE MALTESE FALCON), Asimov ("Foundation" trilogy), Heinlein (METHUSELAH'S CHILDREN), Eco (THE NAME OF THE ROSE), and Jerome (THREE MEN IN A BOAT--multiple versions, including one by Stoppard).
Apart from the BBC, there's also CBC, with a horror series from around 1980 called "Nightfall" (no relation to Asimov's tale-- doesn't look like they did a version of it, either), and also a 1940s hour-long DRACULA with the Count played by Lorne Green.
Special mention of the NPR audio version of the first three real STAR WARS movies, which I'm listening to this week and probably next. Not sure I'll go through all three flicks in one go.
As to audiobooks, too many to mention. I installed the Hoopla app on my phone, and I can check them out on it, save them to it, and listen to them online. Ebooks too.
Lots of words there. Stopping now. [-kw]
I don't listen to a lot of old time radio any more. There are still a few podcast sites that play four or so OTR plays a week (e.g., Relic Radio). Unfortunately too much of what get played has poor sound quality. You might want to take a look at THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF OLD-TIME RADIO by your John Dunning. It is at one time fairly comprehensive and at the same time woefully insufficient.
A lot of the other you mention are quite good. The Leepers were big fans of "I'm Sorry, I'll Read that Again." This can best be described as the radio version of Monty Python, complete with John Cleese.
The superhero shows were fun: THE SHADOW, THE GREEN HORNET, CHANDU THE MAGICIAN.
Mercury Theatre is legendary and their adaptation of Dracula was one of the best ever done. [-mrl]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
For those who find today's fiction too long, I want to recommend the work of Lydia Davis. Her omnibus volume, THE COLLECTED STORIES OF LYDIA DAVIS (ISBN 978-0-312-65539-6), is 752 pages and contains 198 stories, the complete contents of four previously published books: BREAK IT DOWN, ALMOST NO MEMORY, SAMUEL JOHNSON IS INDIGNANT, VARIETIES OF DISTURBANCE.
The problem, of course, in reviewing or even discussing individual stories is that they are often so short that to say anything about them is to ruin the enjoyment of reading them. For example, "Idea for a Short Documentary Film" is only twelve words long; how can I say anything about it without giving it all away? So I will just recommend a few of my favorites:
Everyone who loves flash fiction, or even the "longer" works of such authors of Fredric Brown, should check out the works of Lydia Davis.
Yet another nitpick in THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir: Watney says a rover battery gives it a range of 35 kilometers, so taking the battery from the second rover to swap in gives the first rover a range of 90 kilometers. This is true for his trip to get Pathfinder, because he takes only one rover. However, for his trip to Schiaparelli, he hauls the other rover behind like a trailer and both are filled with heavy equipment and supplies. In spite of this, he still has a range of 90 kilometers.
Library book sales are not what they used to be. At the latest one I went to, I got three seasons of C.S.I. on DVD, the complete (?) series of Maigret television shows on DVD, and only two books (HISTORY'S WORST DECISIONS and a book about time travel which may end up more "New-Agey" then hard science). [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let each man march to his own rhythm, however measured, or far away --H. D. ThoreauTweet
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